If you thought abortion couldn’t possibly find its way into a debate about extending rights to disabled people, especially after the clobbering Republicans took from women last month, you would be wrong.
Yesterday 38 GOP senators, including Fla. Senator Marco Rubio, further betrayed themselves as part of a dying tribe of obtuse goons by voting down ratification of a United Nations Treaty that supports equal rights for disabled men and women. So uncontroversial is this treaty, it was championed by Bob Dole and John McCain and essentially signed into law in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
That law enjoyed bipartisan support.
And, of course, abortion.
Rubio released a statement defending his vote yesterday. The last paragraph reads:
When this treaty was originally negotiated, a bipartisan consensus existed that this treaty would not address abortion. This is an appropriate position when you consider that, too often, unborn children in the United States and across the world are aborted because their disabilities have been detected while in the womb. When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debated this issue in July, I offered an amendment to make clear this Convention does not create, endorse or promote abortion rights as reproductive health. I made clear its intent was not to change U.S. domestic laws on this matter. All my proposed change did was state very clearly that, at the end of the day, this Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is about protecting persons with disabilities, regardless of their stage in life. Because this important change was not adopted … I cannot support Senate ratification of this treaty.
Because it upholds abortion rights, even just symbolically since ratification wouldn’t compel us to do anything but follow laws that are already in place, he won’t support a treaty — inspired by our own law — that proclaims equal rights and protection from discrimination for people who make up nearly one in five Americans.
In fact, Rubio doesn’t simply want the language changed to ignore reproductive rights. He wants language inserted about fetal rights and personhood.
So, take a moment to consider it was only a month and a half ago that 27-year-old Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital after being denied an abortion.
“As long as there is a fetal heartbeat we can’t do anything,” nurses told her as she writhed in pain, begging for the operation that would have saved her life.
Does Rubio, who is being groomed for a 2016 presidential run, feel Halappanavar deserved protection? Or just the fetus dying inside her? Would he force a disabled woman to carry a pregnancy to term? Is she deserving of protection only then?
Rubio’s vote, and the 37 votes of his colleagues, made the answer to that last question crystal clear.
After Halappanavar’s death, RH Reality Check’s Jodi Jacobson wrote:
We must continue to act, to liberalize abortion laws, ensure every woman has access, remove the stigma, and trust women, like Savita, who know when it is time to end even the most wanted pregnancy.
Or you can instead trust Marco Rubio.