Amid all the media frenzy concerning the fiscal cliff and the drumbeat to increase taxes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote on another objective of progressives – ceding our sovereignty to the United Nations. This treaty adopted by the U.N. in 2006 called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or CRPD, will ostensibly promote and protect the rights of the disabled around the world.
Who would be opposed to a treaty that is conceptually designed to help the disabled? Certainly not my wife, Karen, and I, who are the parents of a very special child. Let me be clear: If I thought the U.S. Senate’s approval of this treaty would help our Bella or any disabled child here or in any other country, I would be vocally supporting it. But contrary to what the proponents of this treaty have successfully argued to many disability groups, it simply does not.
CRPD does call for numerous protections for people with disabilities, and many of these protections are consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other state and federal laws. The fact is, the United States leads the world in our respect and treatment for people with disabilities – something of which we as a society should be proud. But this treaty will do nothing to enhance the status of people with disabilities in the United States. In fact, the proponents of this treaty are very adamant that it will do nothing to force the U.S. to change our laws. More on this later.
So why pass it? According to the proponents, it must be passed to improve the treatment of people with disabilities in other countries. In fact, they make the case that Americans traveling abroad will greatly benefit if the United States adopts this treaty. Let me be crystal clear on this point: This is utter nonsense!
Our adoption of this treaty will not legally oblige any other country to do anything. It will no more encourage other countries to change their disabilities laws or spend their resources on increasing access for the disabled than the laws – and the money spent – that the U.S. has already passed to lead the world in this area.
However, we would not be opposing this treaty if it caused no harm and merely did not live up to the supporters’ hype.
But digging a bit deeper, the treaty has much darker and more troubling implications.
The most offensive provision is found in Section 7 of the treaty dealing specifically with children with disabilities. That section reads:
“In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
“The best interest of the child” standard is lifted out of a controversial provision contained in the 1989 treaty called the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. That treaty was never ratified in large part because of this provision.
“The best interest of the child” standard may sound like it protects children, but what it does is put the government, acting under U.N. authority, in the position to determine for all children with disabilities what is best for them. That is counter to the current state of the law in this country which puts parents – not the government – in that position of determining what is in their child’s best interest. Under the laws of our country, parents lose that right only if the state, through the judicial process, determines that the parents are unfit to make that decision.
In the case of our 4-year-old daughter, Bella, who has Trisomy 18, a condition that the medical literature says is “incompatible with life,” would her “best interest” be that she be allowed to die? Some would undoubtedly say so.
So if the state, and not Karen and I, would have the final word on what is in the best interest of a child like Bella, what chance would a parent have to get appropriate care in the days of increasingly government-funded medical care?
Proponents have said that Section 7 would not affect a parent’s right under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but the education standards of CRPD do not repeat the parental rights rules of past U.N. human-rights treaties. Omission of these rules combined with Section 7 could lead to the elimination of parental rights for the education of children with disabilities.
These issues become real for parents because, despite what the proponents insist, ratifying the treaty will require changes to U.S. laws to comply with the U.N. provisions. Section 4 requires any country that adopts this treaty “to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention.”
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on ratification of this treaty. If two-thirds of the Senate passes CRPD, it will become law of the land under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, would trump state laws and could be used as precedent by state and federal judges.
I stand by a simple principle that the laws we live by should be imbued with the principles of the Declaration of Independence. CRPD falls short of this standard, and it must be defeated.
In short, there is no reason for our country to give up our sovereignty to the United Nations when it comes to providing benefits and protections for the disabled in America. Furthermore, it would be an egregious move to deny parents of children with disabilities the right to do what they think is in their child’s best interest in exchange for some illegitimate claim that disabled Americans will have better treatment abroad. CRPD must be defeated.