Missed Opportunity to Lead

In December a minority of 38 senators defeated a proposal to ratify an international treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, based on the Americans With Disabilities Act. The convention would promote full equality before the law for disabled persons everywhere. To Senator John Kerry, this was a moral issue, an opportunity to lead other nations to treat the disabled as well as America does.

A treaty requires a simple two-thirds majority. The vote was 61 to 38—five short of victory. Two of the senators who had promised support switched to no at the last minute. The treaty had bipartisan support, particularly from three Republican war veterans, President George H. W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Senator Bob Dole, who at 89 was wheeled in from Walter Reed Medical Center by his wife, Elizabeth, to bolster the cause and later wheeled out before the humiliating defeat.

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Leading the opposition was the former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, father of a disabled child, who phoned in to “The Glenn Beck Program” and called another senator’s reasoning “a big joke.” Opponents feared that a U.N. committee could threaten American sovereignty and intrude on the parental rights of Americans to educate their own children.

The fight is not over. The bill will come before the Senate again in early 2013. This is a moral issue because it protects the most vulnerable; it is a bipartisan opportunity to do the right thing; and it is an ecumenical opportunity for the leadership of many faiths to call for justice with one voice. It deserves broad public support.

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James McParland
5 years ago
The United States enacted its own federal Americans with Disabilities Act 30 years ago. U.S taxpayers have already spent billions making life easier for diabled Americans. Other countries are free to pass their their own disability laws for their own countries. Nobody is stopping them. So who, precisely, would benefit if the U.S. signed on to this Convention? Perhaps UN bureaucrats who could create a new bureacracy for U.S. taxpayers to fund. When the federal government gets its own domestic spending under control, that would be a good time to revisit the Jesuit goal of establishing social justice in the rest of the world. And as far as "protecting the most vulnerable" is concerned--- I don't recall America Magazine urging us to support an International treaty to cut down on abortions. Did I miss that?
KEVIN HURLEY
5 years ago
Hey Jim - the way the world works, both the political world and real world, is money. (not trying to insult you - you prob know that) The disabled don't have money. Your fetuses (who're not even people) don't have money. I am disabled. I have minimal money; certainly no discretionary funds to line-the-podckets of law makers. US taxpayers are discussed (remember Henry Ross Perot?) with the misuse of the power we buy. That's how the world is. Choose your fights, as I do. That's advice.
john andrechak
5 years ago
Santorum etal lost all their pro-life credibility with the Iraq War, with his drumming for a war with Iran; a fool would believe that if any of his children became pregnant from rape they wouldn't be on their way to Europe if abortion was banned; he is simply a corporate shill with his crypto-randian philosophy

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