Senate Disability Rights Treaty Presents Abortion Concerns for Pro-Lifers

National   |   Lisa Correnti   |   Nov 4, 2013   |   5:05PM   |   Washington, DC

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations publicly noticed  a committee hearing for Tuesday, November 5 on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This will be the first of two committee hearings. The treaty failed by five votes in December 2012.

Pro-life groups have opposed treaty ratification due to the inclusion of the very problematic term “sexual and reproductive” health. This term is defined by abortion advocates, UN Human Rights treaty monitoring bodies and UN agencies to include a right to abortion.

The term was railroaded through UN negotiations in 2006 despite the objections from 23 nations that the term has been used to promote abortion as a right. To gain consensus, leaders offered a footnote clarifying the phrase could not be interpreted to include abortion. This footnote, however, no longer accompanies the treaty. In the end the wording remained – the first and only time in an international treaty. For this reason the Holy See, a champion for the rights of the marginalized including the disabled, expressed disappointment it could not be a signatory.

The American Disabilities Act offers full protection from all discrimination to U.S. citizens with disabilities. Being party to this Convention offers no additional protection.

In attempts to gain senate support for the treaty last December, then-Senator John Kerry, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the treaty was too important to be stalled over abortion concerns. Yet, Kerry and all democratic senators voted against Senator Marco Rubio’s amendment that stipulated the term could not be defined to include a right to abortion.



Senators Ayotte and Kirk are scheduled to testify for the majority in support of CRPD.

Dr. Susan Yoshihara, Senior Vice President for Research with C-FAM and a 20-year veteran, will testify for the minority as will Professor Timothy Meyer.

Other witnesses include abortion rights supporters former Gov. Tom Ridge and  Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. Note: Lisa Correnti writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Turtle Bay and Beyond blog and is used with permission.