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Senate Committee Approves U.N. Disabilities Treaty Without Abortion Language

Senate Committee Approves U.N. Disabilities Treaty Without Abortion Language

July 27, 2012 — Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday tried to attach abortion language to the United Nations treaty on people with disabilities, Ms. Magazine reports (Ms. Magazine, 7/26).

Proponents of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said it would "require the rest of the world to catch up to the United States' high standards created by the Americans With Disabilities Act" and protect U.S. residents with disabilities while overseas, according to The Hill's "Global Affairs."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) offered an amendment that would have added language to say the treaty does not create any new abortion rights. All nine Republicans on the committee voted to support Rubio's amendment (Pecquet, "Global Affairs," The Hill, 7/26). Democrats on the committee argued that abortion has nothing to do with the treaty. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) suggested that if Republicans want to have a debate on abortion, they should do so on the Senate floor.

Panel members approved a secondary amendment by Committee Chair John Kerry (D-Mass.) that says the treaty is a "non-discrimination instrument" and that instead of addressing particular health programs or procedures, it "requires that health programs and procedures are provided to individuals with disabilities on a non-discriminatory basis" (Ms. Magazine, 7/26).

Three Republicans joined the 10 Democrats to move the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities out of committee. Supporters hope to send the measure to the Senate floor before the summer recess at the end of next week ("Global Affairs," The Hill, 7/26).