Day of Shame in the Senate
12.04.12 6:36 PM ET
Your "Changing" Republican Party
This Senate vote refusing to ratify the UN convention on people with disabilities is rather interesting.
1. It's modeled on our own Americans with Disabilities Act. Okay? Modeled on an American law.
2. It would help ensure that people with disabilities in less advanced countries get treated with some measure of ADA-like respect.
3. Every other advanced country has backed it.
4. Bob Dole was there to lobby for it in person. Bob Dole. In a wheelchair, no less!
But the Republicans voted it down. It "passed" 61-38, but two-thirds or 66 were needed for ratification, so it failed. Eight Republicans voted with all Democrats. But not enough.
Opposition arrived under several guises. It shouldn't be done by a lame-duck Congress, which is a threat to US sovereignty. Here's Jim Inhofe: "I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society." I didn't see Rand Paul quoted, but I'm sure that was a good one. Those three-story elevators are clearly a communist conspiracy.
But the most significant source of opposition, writes Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch, had to do with abortion. No, abortion has nothing to do with this. But Goldberg explains:
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has nothing to do with abortion, but objections to ratification of the Disabilities Treaty in the US Senate have focused on the provisions of the treaty that call for equal access to reproductive health care for people with disabilities. Some senators have equated “reproductive heath” and “family planning” with abortion, and have couched their objections to the treaty as such. This is not necessarily a standard interpretation even among pro-life members of congress, but it only takes 36 senators to scuttle the treaty.
And so they did. With Bob Dole sitting there. Amazing. I will give some credit today to John McCain, who voted aye, probably to some degree out of respect for Dole, and Kelly Ayotte, who aped McCain, and Susan Collins. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, led the GOP effort to scuttle the thing on abortion-related grounds.
Bear in mind that 126 countries have ratified this treaty, undoubtedly many of them nations where abortion is illegal. But the country that invented the very idea of codifying non-discrimination against people with disabilities isn't going to be one of them. Glad to see the GOP changing and modernizing so effortlessly in the face of the election result.