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Senate Rejects Disabilities Treaty After Concerns Over Abortion, Other Issues

Senate Rejects Disabilities Treaty After Concerns Over Abortion, Other Issues

December 5, 2012 — The Senate on Tuesday failed to ratify an international treaty to promote equal rights for people with disabilities after conservatives raised concerns that it would lead to more abortions, threaten parental rights and erode U.S. sovereignty, ABC News' "The Note" reports.

Eight Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the treaty, but the 61-38 vote fell short of the two-thirds majority required for ratification (Miller, "The Note," ABC News, 12/4).

The treaty, called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, declares that nations should ensure that all people, regardless of ability, receive equal rights and freedoms. Dozens of other countries -- including China, France, Germany, Great Britain and Russia -- already have ratified the treaty.

The treaty is modeled after the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act (Abrams, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/4). Its ratification would not have changed any existing laws or created any new rights in the U.S.

In addition to concerns about abortion and other issues, Republicans said the treaty should not have been considered during a lame-duck session of Congress.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) dismissed those concerns, saying, "We're facing an entirely fictitious set of arguments on abortion, on home schooling, on lame-duck sessions; all of their arguments have been contradicted by the facts and the law" (The Note," ABC News, 12/4).

Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said the Obama administration hopes the treaty will be reconsidered during the next session of Congress (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/4).