Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Seven Steps in the Message to My Senators

1. Reason for message and credentials or interest. I urge Senate ratification of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). I was a member of the U.S. delegation when the CRPD was being drafted.

2. Rationale. Why must we work so hard to achieve something that is so right? The answer is clear. It matters so much. It will reinstate U.S. leadership on human rights.  It will reestablish our credibility. It will change the world.

3. Background on CRPD. On December 4, 2012, Senate ratification of the CRPD was derailed by a vote of 61 to 38.

Major points of opposition then and now are these:
  • ·       U.S. sovereignty would be weakened
  •      Decisions about the education and treatment of children with disabilities would be taken away from parents and assumed by the UN
  •      New rights to abortion would be created
  •      The claim that Americans with disabilities would benefit from more accessibility abroad is absurd

4. Importance, resources, sense of momentum – who cares. I have blogged on each of these points at I have joined friends and created a Facebook page committed to ratification of the CRPD ( Since its launch on August 9, 2013 it has acquired 2k+ likes and has had over 1,000 people a day talking about the information available through the page.

5. Why the CRPD is reasonable. I recognize that ratification of any international treaty is a serious matter. I also recognize that an international treaty addressing disability rights could be viewed as an intrusion into domestic policy. However, I counter that the words in the CRPD are carefully crafted. The words lay out what a country must do. The words do not lay out how a country does it. The strength, in the wording of what must happen and the flexibility in how it may happen, has caused 150+ countries to sign the CRPD (including the U.S.), and 130+ countries to ratify it.

6. What the Senator can do. I urge you to seek out colleagues in both parties. Find those who are willing to draft clarifications through bipartisan efforts in the Senate resolution on the CRPD. If you do, the result will be, not just the necessary 67 votes, but full Senate consensus on a resolution to ratify the CRPD.

7. What result I would like to see. During my professional career over a 19-year period I participated in the drafting of disability-related legislation for both House and Senate Committees. I saw what bipartisan cooperation could achieve. I would like to see the power of bipartisan partnership exercised in the case of the CRPD.

Thank you.
Patricia A. Morrissey, Ph.D.
Former Commissioner, Administration on Developmental Disabilities
U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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