Monday, December 3, 2012

Tell Your Senator to Vote "No" on CRPD

We've got work to do.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, the day our Senate votes on ratifying a significant United Nations resolution.  And if you believe in the sovereignty of the United States, and the sanctity of life, you need to contact your senators and ask them to vote down this treaty.


It's called the Convention On the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), and at face value, it reads like an unobjectionable declaration of support for the world's handicapped population.  What could be sinister about that?  Even if you don't embrace the concept and existence of a body like the UN, how could a document calling for governments across the world to advance the human dignity of differently-abled people be a bad thing?

Well, for starters, a United Nations treaty supersedes the laws of any sovereign nation, and frankly, America's UN-bashers are correct in pointing out that any international organization that weighs the opinions of Iran - and now, apparently, the PLO - equally with America's is patently absurd.

Not only that, but when it comes to human rights, our United States has been the world's standard-bearer, not the UN.  And when it comes to the rights of people with disabilities, our Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 is already the most comprehensive document of its kind.  If anything, the ADA should be the world's prevailing standard when it comes to protecting handicapped people, or maybe America's Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1990, or the 1988 amendment to the Fair Housing Act.

But no, these legislative efforts encode specific standards for basic mobility and accommodation that, in most countries where human rights are decidedly marginalized, would be seen as unattainable.  Non-handicapped citizens of such countries can only dream of the rights and privileges Americans want for the differently-abled among us.  This UN document is just vague enough to let countries off the hook if they can't - or won't - provide the social and physical infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of their citizenry.

And it's the CRPD's vague language that poses significant concerns among even advocates for the handicapped in the United States.  No less than the international and influential Christian ministry Joni and Friends, run by quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada, has come out against the CRPD.  Not because the basic intention of the UN's convention is wrong or bad, but because of the way its nuanced language creates ambiguous challenges to life in the womb, parental authority, and our country's current ability to protect all of its people.

In particular, language like "empowerment" and "autonomy" in Articles 6, 16, and 23 could be manipulated to the advantage of pro-abortionists, along with the phrase "sexual and reproductive health" in Article 25.  The lack of language acknowledging parental responsibilities in Articles 7 and 14, combined with granting children "equal rights" in Article 23, could be manipulated to the advantage of social welfare agents seeking to undermine the wishes of parents.  Also in Article 23, an amusingly-worded paragraph authorizing "competent authorities" to override the wishes of a handicapped child's parents could result in extraordinarily troubling government interference in interpreting what's best for that family.

If all of this sounds like the reasons for opposing the CRPD are based on moral grounds - which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, of course - consider that in the Preamble of its convention, the UN asserts "disability is an evolving concept" in Section E.  What government body worth its salt would vote a document into serving as the law of the land with such unstable language?  If disability is an evolving concept, doesn't that mean the CRPD is holding in advance certain interpretations to its document that nobody knows yet?  How unsettling does that sound to you?  It sounds like a legal foothold, or placeholder, into sovereignty rights to me.

"We know we want to tell you what to do, but we don't know how many ways the future will provide us for intruding into your nation's sovereignty, so we're going ahead and claiming that power now."

The only real argument that advocates for the disabled have been able to push in favor of our Senate's ratification of this convention tomorrow is that it appears to provide handicapped Americans traveling abroad new safeguards in countries where today, accommodations for the disabled are poor or non-existent.  But if you read further down into the CRPD, you will learn that no concrete timetables for providing even the basic ADA-style expectations exist in this convention.  Physical aids like braille plates on elevators and wheelchair ramps require money and initiative that many countries simply lack, whereas philosophical rules can easily be subverted by attorneys working to introduce expanded practices like abortion within a society.

America can still model its compassion towards and inclusion of disabled people without ratifying the United Nations' Convention On the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.  The CRPD may be well-intentioned, but it is unnecessary for us, potentially intrusive and immoral, and certainly counter-intuitive for a nation of laws like ours.

Please contact your senators and ask them to vote against the CRPD tomorrow.

Click here for information on how to reach the senators from your state.

Update:  we won!

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