Remember Justina Pelletier’s ordeal? Taken into state custody after her own physician’s diagnosis of a health problem was overruled, her parents were told they would no longer be able to determine her treatment and future.
All in the “best interest” of Justina Pelletier.
It was nearly two years and many court hearings before she was free to return to her home and get the medical help she and her parents found she needed.
That, according to an organization that backed her parents, is what would happen more and more often should the U.S. Senate adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted Tuesday to approve the treaty, 12-6. Two years ago in the full Senate, it fell short of the two-thirds needed for ratification, but its critics are working overtime now to persuade senators that the global pact is full of opportunities for Americans’ rights to be diminished.
After the vote, the committee chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said the U.S. needs to lead in promoting “worldwide accessibility.”
He said the disabilities treaty “is essential to improving the lives of over 1 billion people around the globe with disabilities, as well as the 58 million Americans with disabilities right here at home, including 5.5 million disabled American veterans.”
While it has been signed by 146 countries, the U.S. is not among them, and opponents say there’s good reason to keep it that way.
The Home School Legal Defense Association is actively opposing the treaty as a threat to parental and homeschooling rights.
“The scope of the treaty is indefinite, because the treaty provides no definition of ‘disabilities,’ saying only that it is ‘an evolving concept,’” HSLDA said. “The CRPD requires each nation that adopts it to guarantee that it will provide political, civil, social, educational, and cultural rights for persons with disabilities.
HSLDA said it requires “the adopting nation to spend money sufficient to accomplish these purposes and requires regular reporting to the United Nations to ensure that sufficient funds are being expended and to ensure that the other legal requirements are being met.”
Homeschooling and parental rights are endangered, the group argues, because “it would override existing state laws, seriously damaging state’s rights.”
“It would surrender our nation’s sovereignty to unelected U.N. bureaucrats. And it is unnecessary because of the strong protections for people with disabilities provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other U.S. laws.”
HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris long has urged members of the group to contact their senators and urge them to oppose the treaty. His effort has drawn the attention of treaty supporters.
Politico reported reported former Republican Sen. Bob Dole is pressing for passage of the treaty in a coalition of supporters that includes U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, more than 700 disabilities, veterans and business groups and a bipartisan group of senators.
“They know they’ve built a much bigger, more expansive coalition than Farris and his allies – but they don’t underestimate Farris’ devoted base and the sway homeschool and pro-life groups have with many Senate Republicans,” Politico reported.
The portrayal of the HSLDA as a heavyweight is amusing, said Will Estrada, a liaison and spokesman for the organization, but the issue is serious.
“Remember Justina Pelletier?” he asked WND. “That’s what happens when the ‘best interests’ of the child are used.”
He said such cases in the U.S. fortunately are isolated, but if the treaty is adopted, it would be standard practice.
WND columnist Matt Barber took up Pelletier’s case after WND reported it.
“It’s a sordid tale of governmental tyranny, child imprisonment and endangerment, harmful and unethical medical experimentation, as well as a number of gross conflicts of interest,” he wrote. “This is the story of a child, Justina Pelletier, who faced 16 long months of child abuse and incarceration at the hands of both Massachusetts government officials and callous medical personnel at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Thankfully, due to the actions of Liberty Counsel, a Christian civil rights law firm, powerful media voices like Glenn Beck and tens of thousands of outraged and outspoken Americans, 16 year-old Justina is now home.”
He said even Congress is working on a plan that would prevent such cases from recurring.
An HSLDA report said the treaty would make U.S. laws “conform to U.N. mandates,” and the U.S. already “is the world leader in protecting the rights of those with disabilities.”
The key problem, HSDLA said, is the treaty phrase, “In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
The stipulation could give wide latitude to government officials to overrule parental decisions.
“Other provisions of the UNCRPD threaten U.S. sovereignty and our fundamental right to govern ourselves. The treaty also promotes abortions and requires a national registry of all children with disabilities,” the report said. “Some Senate staff may argue that the UNCRPD isn’t dangerous because it can be amended with reservations, understandings, and declarations (‘RUDs).”
But at the vote Tuesday, Democrat senators declined to allow such amendments to be discussed.
“The UNCRPD itself says in Article 46 ‘Reservations incompatible with the object and purpose of the present Convention shall not be permitted.’ Who decides whether RUDs are compatible? The U.N.? Some international law experts have even argued that any RUDs that alter a treaty are invalid. If the UNCRPD is ratified, we could see a case make its way before the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether RUDs are even valid. We cannot trust our freedom to five justices on the Supreme Court making the right ruling. In addition, a future Senate could withdraw RUDs,” the HSLDA report said.
Estrada said the word in the Senate is that there aren’t enough votes to ratify the treaty.
But he said political maneuvering could bring it up for a vote during a lame-duck session when outgoing senators have little reason to fear a voter backlash.
His advice was to expect just about anything.
“They’re desperate to get it through,” he told WND.