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Marco Rubio Seeks to Deny Disabled Women Full Access to Reproductive Health Care

Written by Chloë Cooney for RH Reality Check.This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A rare bipartisan effort underway in the Senate -- to ratify a United Nations treaty on disability rights -- has become the latest target of politicians who would like to undermine a woman's ability to make personal health care decisions.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) guarantees non-discrimination for persons with disabilities worldwide and is consistent with disability rights protections already guaranteed in the United States, most notably the protections afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  As Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said in his opening statement during the hearing:

The United States is a leader in domestic disability rights protection.  What joining the Convention does is to provide a critical tool as we work to ensure that American citizens, including our men and women in uniform and our disabled veterans, are free to travel, work, and live abroad.

Ratification of the CRPD by the U.S. would encourage other countries to improve accessibility standards for the estimated one billion disabled persons around the world.

Article 25 of the Convention guarantees persons with disabilities "the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability."

It goes on to urge nations to "provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality, and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes." 

The Convention guarantees persons with disabilities the right to equal access to all services available to persons without disabilities; it would not otherwise create or revoke the right to any particular medical procedure or service. That is, until Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced language during the recent CRPD hearing defining sexual and reproductive health as not including abortion. Suddenly, a proposed effort to advance persons with disabilities' equal access to health care included restrictive language that, if passed, would apply only to them.


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