Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) joined the 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has the support of advocacy groups across the country. Proponents say it would merely require the rest of the world to catch up to the United States' high standards created by the Americans With Disabilities Act while protecting Americans with disabilities abroad, but opponents — including a number of home-schooling groups — have raised concerns about international standards being imposed on America.
The treaty, said panel Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), “raises the standard to our level without requiring us to go further.”
Abortion was the only issue to divide lawmakers along partisan lines.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed language saying the treaty “does not create any abortion rights.” All nine Republicans on the panel voted for it.
But Democrats said that would have allowed treaty signers to discriminate against people with disabilities — refusing to provide the full range of family planning services under domestic law — in violation of the spirit of the treaty. Instead, Kerry offered an amendment saying 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 anti-abortion rights Susan B. Anthony List however said abortion itself is often a form of discrimination against people with disabilities.
"Ironically, when special needs children are identified in the womb, they often become a prime target for abortion," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. "Over 90% of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero have their lives abruptly ended. Abortion in no way promotes the rights and dignity of people with disabilities."