Social Conservatives Kill a U.N. Treaty (Again)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 4 2012 1:18 PM

Social Conservatives Kill a U.N. Treaty (Again)

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WASHINGTON - APRIL 12: Former Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) after an event at the World War II Memorial April 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. Vice President Joseph R. Biden was joined by Secretary of the Interior Kenneth L. Salazar and others to dedicate a plaque for Senate majority leader Bob Dole's (R-KS), a World War II veteran, involvement in building the memorial. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Before the Senate voted on it, Mark Leon Goldberg explained how important the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities could be. If it passed, despite Republican opposition, it would represent a de-coupling of domestic abortion politics from international spooky-scary U.N. politics.

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.
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Rick Santorum returned to the Senate to make the "this will kill special needs fetuses" case. Bob Dole rolled into the Senate -- literally, using a wheelchair, still convalescing from a trip to Walter Reed -- to try to pass it. Santorum won. Thirty-eight of 46 voting Republicans opposed the treaty, including both Republican senators from Kansas. Also among the nays were several Republicans facing at least theoretical 2014 primary challenges -- Saxby Chambliss, Lamar Alexander, and Mitch McConnell.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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