Politics win over the rights of the disabled: The CRPD

8 Dec

The American Senate voted for the Convention on theRights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD, just not by enough of a margin to pass it. The vote was 61 to 34 with 3 abstentions.

Rick Santorum was a force against the Convention. He is quoted in a number of places as stating:

“If it weren’t for you, the U.S. Senate wouldn’t have defeated the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Your petition signatures (over 20,000!), phone calls, emails and tweets about CRPD’s flaws made the difference.”

When I read such a statement, I am saddened that I didn’t do more to get out the word to voice support. Not that this site would have made the difference, but I wish I had done more.

The Convention was rejected by groups who felt the U.S. should not cede sovereignty over these decisions. A major point is this: the U.S. doesn’t really respond to the U.N. anyway. Sorry to put it so bluntly, but the major force behind enforcing the will of the U.N. is the U.S.. Also, if we as a people are already following the rules set forth in the Convention, we are not going to cede sovereignty to anyone, right? But, still, the specter of “the UN will tell the US how to treat their disabled children” was raised.

On CNN’s Anderson Cooper show, this point was discussed, including this rather strong statement to the contrary by John Kerry:

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I have great respect for both Rick and his wife, Karen, and their daughter and their family. He’s a strong family man. But he either simply hasn’t read the treaty or doesn’t understand it or he was just not factual in what he said, because the United Nations has absolutely zero, zero, I mean, zero ability to order or to tell or to even — I mean, they can suggest, but they have no legal capacity to tell the United States to do anything under this treaty. Nothing.

How about the other side of the discussion? In what areas might we as a people not agree with what is in the Convention? Health care. You read that correctly, health care. The country that spends the most on health care in the world is worried that the UN would impose their rule on us in health care of the disabled.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: 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 and not look at the wonderful gift that every child is.

I see a familiar theme here. The disabled are all children. Moving on, one might ask, “in what way would health care be an issue?” Here is the section of the CRPD on health care:

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:

a.Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
b.Provide those health services needed by persons with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons;
c.Provide these health services as close as possible to people’s own communities, including in rural areas;
d.Require health professionals to provide care of the same quality to persons with disabilities as to others, including on the basis of free and informed consent by, inter alia, raising awareness of the human rights, dignity, autonomy and needs of persons with disabilities through training and the promulgation of ethical standards for public and private health care;
e.Prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provision of health insurance, and life insurance where such insurance is permitted by national law, which shall be provided in a fair and reasonable manner;
f.Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.

In case you are wondering what in that raised concerns, it’s this phrase: “including in the area of sexual and reproductive health”. Yes. The U.S. didn’t ratify the Convention because some groups are concerned that it includes right to birth control, including abortions.

But that’s not all. By putting “population-based public health programmes” adjacent to that statement, the door was opened for this sort of fear mongering:

Bradley Mattes, president of the International Right to Life Federation, stated, “This is a misleading measure in that it does nothing to protect life. It is disguised as a way to ‘help’ the disabled. Instead it intentionally sacrifices the most vulnerable – the disabled and the unborn – all in the name of population control.”

Yes, “population based public health programs” become “population control”. In case you are wondering, here are a few definitions of “population-based” in regards to health care, including:

Population-based care involves a new way of seeing the masses of individuals seeking health care. It is a way of looking at patients not just as individuals but as members of groups with shared health care needs. This approach does not detract from individuality but rather adds another dimension, as individuals benefit from the guidelines developed for the populations to which they belong.

No, it is not population control. “Population-based care” isn’t a scary thing.

There is another area where the way the U.S. acts today might be called into question on the issue of health care: “Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.” There have been a few high profile cases in recent times where individuals were denied transplants due to disability.

In the end, this is a sad day for the U.S.. We have shown the world that we would rather not open ourselves up to criticism. Yes, criticism. That’s the most that could come out of the CRPD from members of the U.N., criticism. Which we would veto. We would rather not face criticism than provide leadership in the world and give ourselves leverage to help enact real change in other countries. If another country abuses its disabled citizens, what are we going to say? “Hey, you aren’t respecting the rights of your disabled citizens.” Yeah. That will carry a lot of weight.

By Matt Carey

8 Responses to “Politics win over the rights of the disabled: The CRPD”

  1. Science Mom December 8, 2012 at 16:09 #

    Yea Republicans. How long before they attempt to repeal the ADA I wonder.

    • chavisory December 8, 2012 at 16:29 #

      Oh, probably not long. I saw a facebook ranter just the other day asserting that the discrimination against small business owners resulting from the ADA is now worse than the discrimination against disabled people which inspired the ADA.

  2. Lara Lohne December 8, 2012 at 18:02 #

    Funny but when I read “Population-based care” the first thing that came into my mind was immunizations, not abortions.

    At the same time though, if an abortion was necessary (disabled women get raped and become pregnant by that rape, just as non disabled women do) then abortion should be one of those things that disabled women are allowed to have done. If a non disabled woman can get an abortion from a pregnancy resulting from rape, then a disabled woman should enjoy the same right. In fact, she should be more entitled to it, in my opinion, because she is more vulnerable to being taken advantage of then a non disabled woman. But that is my opinion, and apparently that doesn’t count for much.

    There has been a strong anti-disabled persons feeling brewing lately. I’m not sure why, but it might stem from all the ‘autism victims’ that keep sharing what ‘autism is’ videos all over the place. Of course this can be applied to any other disability also, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, down syndrome, etc. How many parents are videoing their disabled children and posting those videos on YouTube claiming ‘it’s educational’ but in reality it’s no different from a carnival freak show?

    I will admit that I have posted video of my son on YouTube, as a way to document his early autism signs as well as his progress as he’s gotten older. But typically the videos I have posted have been nothing different from other parents posting cute things their children have done, I just point out his toe walking, or stimming, or lack of verbal communication back when he was non verbal. One time he had a meltdown out of the blue, the entire video was less then a minute. I posted that to show meltdowns come out of the blue. My son told me, “all gone’ (his way, at the time, of letting me know he was done) and I stopped the video. I’ve posted video of me helping him to calm down after a meltdown also, taking deep breaths, deep pressure on his palms, back or shoulders, all done to show that meltdowns, even, are manageable. Most of the videos, my son is happy, smiling and playing. How many videos of autistic children are available like that? From my experience, not many. Is it possible that the advent of personal videos being posted online has led to a significant number of people feeling apathetic and impatient toward the disabled population? Is it possible these parents, in their attempt to ‘show what a burden and hardship their lives are’ have only served to make people feel hostile toward their disabled children? If a person sees a screaming, seizing child, they don’t always recognize it as a human, they might be viewed as more animalistic and uncontrollable. I really believe these parents do a great disservice, not just to their own children, but to all disabled individuals everywhere.

  3. lilady December 8, 2012 at 18:42 #

    Don’t get me started on Rick Santorum, who at the mere mention of providing health care including reproductive health care for disabled women…goes ballistic. For him “reproductive health care” is a “buzzword” for abortion. How ludicrous is that?

    He doesn’t want women to have access to birth control, whether or not they have they have the resources to purchase health insurance and whether or not they are disabled. He would deny all women without health insurance, to have access to reproductive health care, access to uterine, cervical and breast cancer screening and diagnostic medical tests.

    Meanwhile, Santorum is a wealthy man, http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Rick-Santorum-s-tax-returns-show-wealth-increase-3335035.php

    This ex senator who espouses “family values” and who is the father of a special needs child who is also medically fragile, has had the benefit of a extraordinarily generous and extraordinarily inexpensive health care benefits package, that is not available to most parents of special needs/medically fragile children.


    “Like other large employers, the government pays a large share of the cost of coverage. On average, the government pays 72 percent of the premiums for its workers, up to a maximum of 75 percent depending on the policy chosen. For example, the popular Blue
    Cross and Blue Shield standard fee-for-service family plan carries a total premium of $1,327.80 per month, of which the beneficiary pays $430.04. Washington, D.C.-based employees who prefer an HMO option might choose the Kaiser standard family plan. It carries a total premium of $825.15 per month, of which the employee pays only $206.29.

    In addition, members of Congress also qualify for some medical benefits that ordinary federal workers do not. They (but not their families) are eligible to receive limited medical services from the Office of the Attending Physician of the U.S. Capitol, after payment of an annual fee ($491 in 2007). But services don’t include surgery, dental care or eyeglasses, and any prescriptions must be filled at the member’s expense.

    House and Senate members (but not their families) also are eligible to receive care at military hospitals. For outpatient care, there is no charge at the Washington, D.C., area hospitals (Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center). Inpatient care is billed at rates set by the Department of Defense.”

  4. IamAutism December 9, 2012 at 20:52 #

    Between the eugenicists and the idiots who think we are all children I don’t know if I really want to call these people human any more. They don’t have any humanity.

  5. stanley seigler December 10, 2012 at 00:29 #

    I [matt carey] am saddened that I didn’t do more to get out the word to voice support. Not that this site [LBRB] would have made the difference, but I wish I had done more.


    so do we all…

    “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘it cudda been’.”

    but believe we will get 2nd chance…

  6. Andrea Shettle, MSW December 12, 2012 at 20:32 #

    This fight is NOT OVER! Yes, the campaign is still on for US ratification of the CRPD, which would involve an effort to get this to a fresh vote in the senate in 2013. Follow @USICD in twitter (and @AShettle, @CRPDisabilities, @DaraBaldwin1, @AAPD, @AdvocatEquality, and others). Visit http://www.usicd.org/index.cfm/crpdupdates for campaign updates and visit http://www.usicd.org/index.cfm/news-and-releases for links to various news stories, editorials, etc. on the CRPD. Sign up for the monthly newsletter of the US International Council on Disabilities (USICD) at http://www.usicd.org and also talk with them about how to get on their CRPD action alert mailing list.

    In the meantime, until more information is forthcoming about the ratification campaign, people can help during the next few weeks by calling, emailing, or tweeting to senators, or visiting senator offices, to thank them for voting yes, or to “shame” them for voting “no”. This PDF file says who voted what (and includes tweet addresses where available): http://www.usicd.org/doc/Copy%20of%20US%20Senators%20List%20of%20Twitter%20ID%20Yea%20%20Nay.pdf

    To find email addresses, phone numbers, or other contact information for senators, visit http://senate.gov If you’re thinking of visiting or calling, then senators usually have an office not only in DC but also in their home state. Obviously senators are most strongly interested in hearing from their own constituents. But it is okay to also contact senators who aren’t yours–this is a national and international issue, not just a statewide issue!


  1. Progressives.org | Senate vote on UN disability convention shows pitiful state of US politics – Telegraph.co.uk - December 9, 2012

    […] polarised and dysfunctional the Senate has become, says John Avlon. Senate Foreign Relations …Politics win over the rights of the disabled: The CRPDLeft Brain Right Brainall 3 news […]

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