There are approximately 681,000 people over five years old who have some form of a disability in South Carolina, according to Disability World. In addition to this figure it is estimated that there are about 132,000 people in the state who have a hard time with some daily living activity.

With this overwhelming need for support for so many South Carolinians who want to live independent and meaningful lives I write to ask you to join myself and others in our fight for those thousands of South Carolinians and millions of Americans and Veterans with disabilities by supporting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014 (CRPD2014), also known as the “disability treaty.”

Even more important, this bipartisan treaty is vital to the way we think of people with disabilities. It will end discrimination both in the USA and around the world by expanding on the goals of people with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People with disabilities will be empowered to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, inclusion and integration into society instead of being left alone in the dark.

If passed, it has the opportunity to be a defining treaty in the 21st century. There are prospects to address social stigma and place disability rights as a vital component of U.S. foreign policy. We will also be able to return the U.S. to the leader in disability issues for all parties without affecting the Treaty of the Sea, domestic concerns or limiting rights of the state or nation.

Everyone with disabilities along with Veterans and service people will be open to opportunities to embrace equal treatment in access to rehabilitation, employment and educational opportunities. It’s long overdue for anyone with a disability to be treated as they deserve. However, there are many doubters and myths associated with this treaty. Let’s take a look at the TRUTH behind the CRPD2014 updated treaty.

Myth: The CRPD2014 treaty hurts the parental rights of parents with children with disabilities and impairs their right to home school.
Fact: Actually, parental rights are protected under the treaty and the roles of parents raising children with disabilities are highlighted. The treaty states, “No case shall a child be separated from parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or one or both of the parents.”
A couple of proposed reservations on federalism and private conduct provide additional protection to parental authorities. This ensures state and federal disability law and protections are fully preserved including laws providing a parent’s right to home school a child.

Myth: Abortion rights and abortion funding will be endorsed around the world.
Fact: The CPRD2014 does not address abortion or any health practices. What it addresses are the rights of people with disabilities to have the same rights as others. The treaty package presented to the Senate states, “Article 23(1) does not address abortion or any other particular health service. The convention does not affect U.S. law with regard to abortion… Article 25 is a nondiscrimination provision and does not address the matter of abortion.” Health procedures are provided under domestic law as guaranteed under U.S. law. It’s important to understand that this treaty does confirm that everyone with a disability has the right to life as stated in Article 10.

Myth: By ratifying the CRPD, the definition of disability and other terms in U.S. law.
Fact: There is no definition of disability provided under the treaty. This allows countries to apply their own domestic definition. In the U.S., the treaty package presented to the Senate includes an understanding that “disability” and “persons with disabilities” will be defined under U.S. law.

Myth: U.S. sovereignty will be infringed.
Fact: Ratification of the treaty will not require any changes in U.S. law or policy or hand over any authority over U.S. law. There will be no international authority over U.S. law and that is clearly stated in the new RUD’s.

Myth: A UN committee of experts will be in charge of the U.S. law.
Fact: The committee, composed of 18 disability experts, composed the treaty and only provides advice and is able to make recommendations to parties of the treaty. The U.S. does not have to follow any advice or recommendations which is clearly stated in the IDEA 2014 .

There are too many people with disabilities, as well as Veterans, who deserve fair treatment in our country. The U.S. will provide and influence guidance on the implementation of the treaty around the world as well as lending professional advice as other countries develop their own disability rights laws. All people with disabilities will have the same opportunity to benefit from a world economy that is fully accessible to all people.

In addition to learning about the CRPD2014, it’s also vital to contact your Senator. You can find this information by typing in your zip code at www.arcmidlands.org/take-action/. You can also find a letter and sign the petition on the CRPD’s website at www.cqrcengage.com/disabilitytreaty/action.

The steps are easy and the results are worthwhile as you step up for people with disabilities. Will you take a stand?