Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on Monday that he is moving forward this week to begin consideration of the United Nations Treaty for People With Disabilities. The treaty, which was negotiated during the George W. Bush administration and signed by 126 countries, requires nations that sign on to update their laws for persons with disabilities, ostensibly a move to protect those disabled who may face abuse and maltreatment in some countries.
Some prominent leaders, however, believe the UN treaty could undermine the sovereign authority of the United States and the rights of parents to make decisions for their own children.
Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum traveled to Washington for a joint press conference with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and members of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit group that advocates for the rights of parents to educate their children at home.
According to Sen. Lee, his concerns with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) “have nothing to do with any lack of concern for the rights of persons with disabilities. They have everything to do with protecting U.S. sovereignty, protecting the interests of parents in the United States and the interests of families.”
Former Sen. Santorum, who is both the father of a disabled young child and a homeschooling parent, and Sen. Lee, who collected the signatures of 36 Republicans who oppose the treaty’s ratification, both expressed concerns about the impact of ratification on American citizens.
Observing that the United States already has laws to protect the disabled that surpass those proposed in the treaty, Santorum said, “Adopting this treaty will do nothing to improve that, or people with disabilities overseas. This is undermining parents, and adopting a standard that is something that folks are justifiably afraid of—which is the state having priority over the parent as to what's in the best interest of the child."
Santorum and Mike Farris, head of HSLDA, drew attention to Article 7, number 2, of the treaty which states:
In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
“This is a direct assault on us and our family to hand over to the state the ability to make medical determinations and see what is in the best interest of the child,” Santorum said.
Farris explained that the treaty would give the government “unilateral ability” to have authority over persons with disabilities while it is parents, and not the government, that should "get the choice of what's best for their child."
Describing the Disabilities treaty as “a warm-up act for other UN treaties, chief of which is the convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),” Farris said his organization opposes governmental regulations that undermine the rights of parents to care for and educate their own children as they see fit.
“The United Nations and globalists are determined to impose their agenda on American families,” Farris said at the press conference.
On the HSLDA website, Farris further explains that the term “disability” is not actually defined in the UN treaty. “Who is affected by this treaty is left undecided and could be left up to the determination of some UN bureaucrat,” he writes.
Proponents of this treaty admit that the U.S. has the best disability laws in the world, but urge the U.S. to ratify the treaty so our nation “has a seat at the table at the UN to advocate for disabled people.” HSLDA believes that our nation already is a strong advocate for the disabled and that risking our nation’s sovereignty and threatening parental rights is not worth a position at a discussion forum.
In addition to Sen. Lee, Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Pat Toomey (R-PA), and others are standing against the treaty’s ratification.