Sen. Feinstein response to UN Disabilities Treaty

I recently emailed Sen. Dianne Feinstein, urging her to oppose this treaty.  Here is her response:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to Senate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this topic, and I welcome the opportunity to address your concerns.

As you may know, the Convention is an international treaty that requires nations to promote, protect, and ensure full legal equality for persons with disabilities.  To date, 153 countries, including the United States, have signed the Convention, and 66 have formally ratified it.

There has been much misunderstanding about this treaty, and I would like to correct the misinformation as follows:

 · Ratification of this treaty would not require any changes to U.S. law, because the United States already meets or exceeds the obligations in the Convention;

 · The United Nations committee established by the Convention can only issue non-binding recommendations regarding implementation of the treaty and does not have any enforcement powers;

 · The Convention will not take away the rights of parents with respect to disabled children or require any changes to U.S. education laws; and

 · The treaty does not change U.S. laws regarding reproductive health, nor does it mandate or prohibit any particular health procedure. 

As Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noted in a December 4, 2012 speech on the Senate floor:

This treaty isn't about American behavior, except to the degree that it influences other countries to be more like us. This treaty is about the behavior of other countries and their willingness to raise their treatment of people with disabilities to our level. It is that simple. This treaty isn't about changing America, it is a treaty to change the world to be more like America.

On December 4, 2012, the Senate voted 61 to 38 in favor of ratification of the treaty, six votes short of the two-thirds majority required.  I voted in favor of ratification, because I believe it is important to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities and to ensure that these rights are extended around the world.  This treaty would also protect U.S. citizens with disabilities, including disabled veterans, who live or travel abroad, as well as assist U.S. businesses in ensuring that their international competitors are required to abide by similar laws.

I hope that I have adequately addressed your concerns.  While we may not agree on the merits of this treaty, please continue to keep me informed on issues of importance to you.  If you have any additional questions or concerns, be sure to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at  Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator


Would anyone be willing to comment on this?  Do her comments have any merit?  I don't know what to believe on this issue -- of course, I'm more inclined to side with Rick Santorum than Feinstein.  But I would like someone to offer a rebuttal.  Thanks.

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commented 2013-06-24 16:48:04 -0400 · Flag
Here is an excellent response by Dr. Michael Farris to a similar letter from Senator Rockefeller:
published this page in Forum 2013-06-24 15:39:40 -0400