Good News for Rights Advocates

The Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is on Course for Ratification in the U.S. Senate — Maybe This Week! 

Calls are Needed to Senator Coburn … (202) 224-5754

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came up for a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, and it won easy approval.  By a 13 to 6 margin, the treaty gained bi-partisan support, and Senator John Kerry (chairman of the committee) indicated that he will seek a vote of the full Senate within days.  

A 2/3 vote in favor of the treaty is needed for ratification.

To our knowledge, Senator Coburn has not taken a public position on the CRPD. He is not generally known as an advocate for people with disabilities, yet he has spoken favorably of some international agreements — particularly those that serve to protect intellectual property rights. So, there is a possibility that he will vote “yes” on the CRPD.  (Senator Inhofe disappointed us by voting against the treaty when it received a hearing in the Foreign Relations Committee).

To contact Dr. Coburn, you can use the webform that appears on his website:

Or, you can call his Washington office directly … 

(202) 224-5754

When you contact Senator Coburn, please feel free to mention these three points:

(1)  This treaty will help bring the rest of the world up to American standards — guaranteeing that disability is not an arbitrary barrier to employment, education, etc. 

(2)  The Foreign Relations Committee is recommending that the treaty be ratified with a reservation stating that, “current United States law fulfills or exceeds the obligations of the Convention.” 

(3)  Another reservation adopted by the committe states that the treaty does not address “the provision of any particular health program or procedure,” meaning the treaty doesn’t create any new abortion rights beyond the duty not to discriminate against people with disabilities.

The third point is particularly important since some treaty skeptics have raised opposition to the treaty on the grounds that it recognizes the right of equal access to reproductive health services. The Foreign Relations Committee has tried to make clear that the treaty’s reference to reproductive health is intended to cover the full range of health services in this category — including fertility treatments, etc. — without singling out any procedure for special consideration. 

Your action on this treaty will help to assure ratification by the United States Senate. 

Moreover, it will help to protect the rights of people with disabilities around the world — including the rights of Americans traveling abroad. 


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