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Deep Disappointment Follows Senate’s Rejection of UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities

For Immediate Release

PHR is deeply disappointed at today’s Senate vote not to adopt the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities.

“The US Senate has missed a historic opportunity to join 126 other nations where the human rights and basic freedoms of all people with disabilities have been affirmed,” said Hans Hogrefe, chief policy officer at PHR. “By its vote today, the Senate has shown itself willing to retreat from the forefront of protecting such rights, shown by its passage in 1990 of the ground-breaking Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The UN convention text was closely modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which codified equality under the law and equal access to public accommodations. If the US had become a state party to the Convention, US law would not have changed. Rather, the US would have extended its model for protecting the rights of people with disabilities by fully joining the global conversation on disability rights.

President Obama has already signed the convention, but adoption by the Senate was required for full ratification. Opponents included champions of home schooling and parental rights, who erroneously feared government intrusion in their affairs, and abortion opponents concerned that ratification of the convention might complicate any attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“While today's result is deeply disappointing, the fight for US ratification will continue,” Hogrefe said. “Political leaders in both parties and the enormous strength of the disability rights community, which gave us the world's gold standard in disability rights, the ADA, will ensure that the US will ultimately bring its strength to the protection of international disability rights.”

The Senate needed 67 votes to ratify the treaty, and failed by a vote of 61-38.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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