Republicans in the Senate surprised some earlier this week when they voted down a United Nations treaty for the “Rights of Persons with Disabilities.” Republicans have said that they do not want to disparage disabled people, but they are concerned about provisions in the treaty that they believe will trump state laws and make the government at U.N. direction–not the parents–the one who ultimately decides what is best for children with disabilities. During an interview on CNN Friday, Anderson Cooper and Senator Michael Lee got into a heated discussion over why the Utah Republican opposed the treaty.
Lee argued on CNN that the treaty would undermine American parents decisions for their children with special needs, possibly obligate the U.S. government to pay for abortion services, and may set in place “international entitlement rights.”
“You’re just interpreting things,” Cooper said. “It never uses the word abortion, it basically says that disabled people should have the same access to health care that other pople have, that non disabled people have overseas.”
Cooper and Lee went back and forth on how the treaty would change U.S. law.
“Can you name any other U.N. treaty that has forced changes in U.S. law,” Cooper asked.
Lee responded “I didn’t come prepared to cite Supreme Court precedent on this point but it’s a well known fact that once you ratify a treaty–“
“But what you’re saying is totally hypothetical” interrupted Cooper.”You’re using a bunch of hypotheticals saying they’re going to–this is going to force abortion rights for disabled people overseas, some groups are saying children with glasses are going to be taken from their parents, you’re using all these very scary hypotheticals–you cant even cite one case where a U.N. treaty has impacted U.S. law?”
“You can’t assume that because something hasn’t happened already that it couldn’t happen in the future,” Lee went on to say. Lee also took issue with the U.S. getting involved in non-international relations treaties.
“Typically Anderson we use treaties to deal with international relations, to deal with the law of nations, acting on the world’s scene,” said Lee. “This deals with a lot of issues that are distinctively domestic in nature.”