The Treaty To Block Parental Rights — CRPD

Yesterday, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty. The White House expressed its dissatisfaction saying, in part, “We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation.”

Amanda K. Melson is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Amanda K. Melson is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

The treaty is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations to protect individuals with disabilities. Under the Convention, parties are bound ensure that disabled people enjoy the same human rights as their counterparts without disabilities, and full equality under the law.

Proponents of the treaty claim it would have helped “individuals with disabilities around the world obtain the rights and protections we have here in the United States. The ratification of this treaty would have unified us with millions of disability advocates, family members and self-advocates of all nations,” said Peter Burns, CEO of The Arc. He went on to say that The Arc will continue to fight for this legislation. Senator John Kerry and former Senator Bob Dole claimed it would advance the rights of disabled citizens across the world and further benefit Americans abroad, who already enjoy the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act here at home.

Opponents claim that CRPD, once ratified, would be the law of the land under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Since it would trump state laws, it could be used as precedent by state and federal judges. In addition, children with disabilities would be required to register with the federal government at birth  in accordance with Article 18.2 of the treaty. It also requires the collection of statistics and data, reporting on implementation and full cooperation of the federal government with the UN pursuant to Articles 31, 35, and 37, respectively.

Furthermore, under Article 23, the federal government is charged with “ensuring equal rights with respect to family life,” by preventing “concealment, abandonment, neglect and segregation of children with disabilities.” Article 24 advocates “enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society,” and charges the federal government with ensuring such people are not “excluded from the free and compulsory primary education.”

These provisions do not support the rights of parents to decide what type of education is best for their child(ren), making them subject to the will of the government. While no one would argue against preventing concealment, abandonment, neglect and segregation of disabled children, or excluding them from school, many parents elect to home school their children. This treaty would provide an opportunity for the federal government to dictate to parents the manner in which their special-needs children are cared for and educated. An impersonal, one-size-fits-all government bureaucracy does not have the ability to make informed decisions on what constitutes “the best interest of the child” on a case by case basis. When the government determines what rights a parent enjoys, it can just as easily take those rights away.

Critics were also concerned with Article 25, which discusses “gender-sensitive” health care measures, including “the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes … including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons.”  When taken in conjunction with Article 23-1(b), “The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided,” experts explain it would expand the use of abortion in the United States by encouraging expectant mothers of special needs children or special needs adults to abort their pregnancies. As a nation, several studies have found around 90 percent of pregnancies testing positive for Down Syndrome are aborted.

Additionally, countries that ratify the treaty are required to cooperate internationally and are subject to monitoring of national implementation by the U.N. Members of the U.N. frequently charge the United States with human rights violations and this would simply be another inroad to do away with U.S. sovereignty.

Republicans who voted in favor of the measure are Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Barrasso (WY), Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Dick Lugar (IN), John McCain (AZ), Lisa Murkowski (AK),and Olympia Snowe (ME). Republican Senator Mark Kirk (IL) did not vote.

The treaty will be brought forward after the new Congress is sworn in this coming January for another vote. Even with the election of Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), it is unlikely the treaty will pass in 2013. As a treaty, it requires a two-thirds majority in order to pass.


  1. Nowhere in the article does it give a most important part of the story and that is the grassroots activism of the Home School Legal Defense Association and Michael Farris, along with a bazzilion home schoolers around the country that burned down the phones to convince these people of the points above. We worked for weeks to massage the opinions and votes of the US Senate members. Additionally, it is only mentioned at the end of this article that it is coming around, again. And us home schoolers need more help in beating this. All the facts above are wonderful, but it doesn’t move the citizen reading this because it literally leaves out the huge grassroots activism. I would suggest you call up the HSLDA and get details that can equip more of our citizenry to get involved. Otherwise, when we get deluged with more useless treaties from the UN, we may not make it.

    • Thank you for your feedback. In articles where we are stimuli trying to cover the facts, we are careful with opinion to limit it. If you would Ike to write a guest editorial to share with our readers how the home school community did, is and will help/ing, we would be happy to review it. You may click on Tips/Contact in the menu at the top and submit it via email for review. Be sure to include your name, city and state.

    • Hi, Mark. As a parent who homeschools my three children, I understand and am aware of the concern of other homeschool parents with regard to this treaty and did mention it. This article was mostly a fact-based break-down of the treaty and why people supported or opposed it.

      I have written another post (to be published sometime today) taking on John Kerry and what he said after the vote, which presents a lot of facts again, but also includes my opinion. I did not discuss the homeschool aspect in this article because I focused only on what Kerry said. I would certainly be willing to write another article about why the HSLDA opposes the treaty if you decline the Brief’s offer to write about it as a guest columnist.

      Let me say though, that I don’t believe this is a niche issue (either homeschool or conservative). This is an American issue. The ramifications of this treaty, if passed, could end our country as we know it. The fact that it is seen favorably by ANYONE in Congress, let alone at least eight “Republicans” should scare the living daylights out of anyone who loves this country and prompt a nationwide movement encouraging The U.S. to remove itself from the U.N. They do NOT have our best interests in mind.

  2. Basically, what I was saying was that it seems home schoolers are the main group of people paying much attention to this, not that this is a “niche” issue. I was not inferring that, at all. Merely that most of our civic public has no idea what to do with items like this but home schoolers do because they do it all the time. Home schooling grass roots are heard more frequently and with more force. Even the pro-life movement has not progressed outside of 1971. They have no idea how to show force. All one has to do is read about HR 6 in 1994 and find out most Americans have “no clue” how to force congress. I have seen the ineffectiveness of the pro-life lobby and it isn’t pretty. Home schoolers are single-visioned and make calls when told to. And they don’t just call THEIR representative or senator, they call everyone else, as well. Putting pressure on someone that works? That is a thing of beauty, and believe me, it can be done. I’ve seen it myself.

    You should try walking into a congressional office some time when you know calls are going out on an issue and listen to all the phone calls and the responses. It is simply magical to hear. Knowing that they are all your “peeps” that are applying the pressure. If this has ever happened to you, then you will be changed forever, about the power of grass roots. Until you own it as a personal mission to protect this country’s interests and not just “make a phone call”, you will never know the joy of being responsible for your own country. I get the sense, few do.

    If you want me to write an editorial, let me know. My wife is fighting cancer and my time is limited.


  1. […] Brenner Brief first reported in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) earlier this […]

  2. […] the Senate failed to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Senator John Kerry took to the airwaves with Chris Matthews on Hardball Wednesday, vowing […]

  3. […] The Treaty to Block Parental Rights — CRPD – Amanda K. Melson […]

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