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Understanding the UN CRPD: An Interview with Rick Santorum

March 4–8, 2013   |   Vol. 115, Programs 11–15

Senator Rick Santorum and host Mike Farris both stand against the UN CRPD this week on Home School Heartbeat.

“To shift the power of what’s in the best interests of your child to the state and away from the parent is a fundamental erosion of parental rights in this country.” —Senator Rick Santorum

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This week on Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Farris interviews Senator Rick Santorum on their shared concerns about the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Tune in to hear the senator’s stance on the treaty.

Mike Farris: I’m joined today by my good friend and former U.S. senator, Rick Santorum. Rick, welcome to the program.

Sen. Santorum: Well, thank you, Mike.

Mike: I’d like to talk with you about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. You and I both have significant concerns about this treaty. Can you share why you are personally invested in this treaty’s outcome?

Sen. Santorum: Honestly, it was my wife, Karen and I, we both believed that the one provision that dealt with the rights of parents to do what is in the best interests of their child is a paramount right in this country. To shift the power of what is in the best interest of your child to the state and away from the parent is a fundamental erosion of parental rights in this country, and is a grave threat to children with disabilities, particularly severe disabilities that have significant expenses attached to that disability. So, when we read that provision that said that this treaty would, in fact, extend rights to the state to care for, or to determine what is in the best interest of that child, that was a deal breaker for us.

Mike : Rick, I think this should concern every American. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Rick, can you tell us how your own daughter’s story would have been impacted if this treaty was in control at the time that she was being born and was being treated?

Sen. Santorum: Well, this is why it was so important to us. Because our daughter has a condition—Isabella—called Trisomy 18; it is a very, very serious disability and one that generally does lead to the death of the child. But Bella’s an exception to that, a beautiful and wonderful and blessed exception to that. But if you are a physician and you are now in the position in a system that is increasingly government-run medicine, and you are now in the position to say, “We shouldn’t be spending resources on a child like that, and it’s in her best interest not to live and suffer with these medical and physical disabilities.” For us, this was a direct assault on our ability to do what we believe is in the best interest of our child, and give her the best chance.

So, it is very personal for us not just because of our Bella, but because of the families that we have met who have similar conditions, or the same conditions. If this was the standard, where the parents didn’t have the final say, the states did, these kids would not have a chance.

Mike: Rick, thank you for being willing to share your family’s story and how this treaty affects you. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Rick, we’ve been talking a lot about the reason that parents need to be making decisions for their children rather than the government controlling those decisions. There’s another jurisdictional question involved in this treaty, and that is, “Should Americans make the public policy for this country about disability issues or should the United Nations get to set the standard through this treaty?” What’s your take on that whole issue?

Sen. Santorum: All of the sponsors and advocates of this bill say, “Oh, this treaty will do nothing here in America. We won’t have to change a single law. We won’t have to do anything because we already do most of the things that are here. We’re not bound by what this treaty says.” They make the comment that America has to pass this treaty, because it will encourage others who have already ratified it to do these things, and, in fact, encourage other countries to ratify it and, therefore, force them to change their laws. How can it be that this treaty will force other countries to change their laws, but not force us to have our laws comply? It doesn’t make any sense. And passing it in this country would do nothing to have other countries change their laws. It depends on whether they pass it or not, not whether we pass it or not.

Mike: Rick, these are excellent reasons. I fully agree that Americans should make the law for America. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: In December of 2012, concerned citizens were able to rally, make calls, send e-mails, and we were able to encourage the Senate to narrowly defeat the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Senator, how can you explain how these concerned individuals won the round, because it sure didn’t look like that at first?

Sen. Santorum: Well, I will tell you that this was a really amazing effort on the part of your organization, our organization Patriot Voices, and other organizations like Family Research Council and others, who really stepped forward and just notified people. And this is the one thing that I was so proud of the people of America. We stand up for our sovereignty. We stand up for parents. And the folks who are passionate about these things are willing to go out and make a difference, call their senators, visit their offices. We communicated the message that they weren’t hearing, and we were doing it in a way that was thoughtful, respectful, and authoritative. And so, the power of the argument and the passion of the people who got involved really did make a difference.

Mike: This just goes to show how the actions of a few watchful people can have a significant national impact. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Senator, with 2012’s victory behind us, what do you see coming on the horizon regarding the future of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?

Rick Santorum: I know a lot of folks did not expect that treaty to be defeated. Foremost, Barack Obama and Harry Reid, who put this treaty up as the first treaty in the lame duck with the hope that they could pass this and then create a snowballing effect to pass even other treaties. But we were able to nip it in the bud, and I suspect that they will come back at it again in this session. And so, we have to continue to be vigilant and continue to communicate the opposition and educate senators about what this treaty really does. Let them know that this is a high priority issue; and tell them the truth, because the media and the folks who are the advocates of this treaty were not telling the truth.

Mike: This treaty is something I know you and I will continue to oppose for the sake of our loved ones and the preservation of our liberty. Rick, thanks so much for sharing your concerns about this. I’m Mike Farris.

Senator Rick Santorum

A native of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2012 and became known as a voice for conservatives who didn’t feel their voice was being represented. His grassroots approach to campaigning—including visiting every one of Iowa’s 99 counties and his stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses—catapulted him to frontrunner status where he ultimately won 11 states and nearly four million votes during the Republican primary process.

In June 2012, Rick Santorum launched Patriot Voices, a grassroots and online community of Americans from across the country committed to promoting faith, family, freedom and opportunity in accordance with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Patriot Voices is working to unite one million voices through a common belief in American exceptionalism, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility.

Rick and his wife of 22 years, Karen, are the parents of seven wonderful children: Elizabeth, John, Daniel, Sarah Maria, Peter, Patrick and Isabella. And during his run for president, Rick spoke passionately about his belief that strong families help produce a strong economy. He shared his views that we must expand opportunities for all Americans by encouraging incentives for marriage, children, and free enterprise. 

As an example of his commitment to improving our economy, Rick spoke often about his belief that we must renew America’s manufacturing sector to ensure that our nation isn’t just made of innovators but of those who can produce those innovations. Renewing our country’s manufacturing spirit will strengthen working families and help our struggling communities return to a path of prosperity during these tough economic times. Rick also believes we must support America’s domestic energy potential through pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms that will not only create jobs but strengthen our national security.

On the campaign trail, Rick was a voice for the voiceless. Voters across this country heard about Rick and Karen’s youngest daughter Isabella, who was born with a condition called Trisomy 18, and who wasn’t expected to survive her first birthday.  Beating all the odds, Bella celebrated her 4th birthday in May of 2012 and is a joyful and loving little girl. Bella’s miraculous life has only strengthened Rick and Karen’s belief in the dignity of each of every life. Furthermore, one of the key reasons that Rick chose to run for president in 2012 was because of the passage of Obamacare. He believes passionately that we must repeal Obamacare and replace it with a bottom up, patient-driven—not government-driven—system.

Prior to running for President, Rick served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995, and in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007, where he was known as one of the most successful government reformers in our history. Rick took on Washington’s powerful special interests from the moment he arrived in our nation’s Capitol in 1991. Along with John Boehner and Jim Nussle, Rick was a member of the “Gang of Seven” that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals. It was this record of reform that prompted a Washington Post reporter to write that “Santorum was a tea party kind of guy before there was a tea party.”

Rick was also an author and floor manager of the landmark “Welfare Reform Act” which passed in 1996 that has empowered millions of Americans to leave the welfare rolls and enter the workforce.

He wrote and championed legislation that outlawed the heinous procedure known as Partial Birth Abortion as well as the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act,” the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” and the “Combating Autism Act” because he believes each and every individual has value and the most vulnerable in our society need to be protected.

Rick fought to maintain fiscal sanity in Washington before it was in fashion, fighting for a balanced budget and a line item veto. He bravely proposed reforming entitlements, cutting spending and even developed a “spendometer” that added up the cost of Democrat amendments to spending bills. This record made him one of the most conservative senators in Pennsylvania’s history.

Rick served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee where he led the fight before the attacks of September 11, 2001, to transform our military from a Cold War force to meet today’s threats. He was a leader on US-Israeli relations, authoring both the “Syria Accountability Act” and the “Iran Freedom and Support Act,” which he successfully fought to pass in spite of initial opposition by President Bush.  Rick firmly believes that we cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

An accomplished author, Rick Santorum penned the 2005 New York Times–best seller It Takes a Family.  He is also the author of American Patriots: Answering the Call to Freedom, which highlights the heroic men and women who valiantly fought to secure our God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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