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You are here News Congress Senate GOP again opposes UN treaty protecting persons with disabilities

Senate GOP again opposes UN treaty protecting persons with disabilities

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Persons with Disabilities ConventionAny suspicion that the political right, after suffering a defeat on the debt ceiling and facing threats from business donors, is losing its clout can be dismissed by the fight over the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The treaty has been ratified by 141 countries. It is backed by the White House, former President George H.W. Bush, the major U.S. disability and veterans advocacy groups, and American businesses.

Senate Republicans, however, already defeated the treaty in 2012, and it now faces an uphill slog to get the two-thirds vote needed for ratification. Right-wing critics, led by former Senator Rick Santorum, the Heritage Foundation and home-schoolers, charge that adopting it would allow global enforcers to dictate the treatment of Americans with disabilities or the permissibility of home schooling, and ease access to abortion.

In reality, the treaty is modeled on the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. It states that nations must ensure that people with disabilities get the same rights and are treated with same dignity as all others. It might well pressure other countries to adopt U.S. standards.

Proponents say American leadership is important, a demonstration of the soft power of ideals and values. If passage emboldens other nations to elevate their standards, it will make life easier for Americans with disabilities, including veterans, when traveling outside the U.S.

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