Vatican Refuses To Sign Global Disability Rights Treaty
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 19, 2006
VATICAN CITY--The Vatican has refused to sign an international treaty protecting the rights of the world's 650 people with disabilities because of a clause Catholic Church leaders believe could allow abortions based on disability.
In a December 14 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Pope Benedict XVI's U.N. Ambassador, said the Vatican supported most of the "helpful" provisions in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, particularly those calling for people with disabilities to be fully included in society.
However, Archbishop Migliore noted, a clause requiring member nations to provide "sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programs" to people with disabilities might actually be used to promote abortions to keep children with disabilities from being born.
"The same convention created to protect persons with disabilities from all discrimination in the exercise of their rights may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons."
"For this reason, and despite the many helpful articles this Convention contains, the Holy See is unable to sign it," he concluded.
On December 13, the General Assembly approved the treaty, which is being hailed as the first U.N. human rights treaty in the 21st century. U.N. member nations will be able to sign onto the convention beginning on March 30 of next year. It will come into force once 20 nations have ratified it.
"Address on U.N. Convention on the Disabled; 'The Holy See Is Unable to Sign It'" (Zenit News Services)
"U.N. General Assembly Approves International Disability Rights Treaty" (Inclusion Daily Express)