måndag 3 september 2012

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Dear friends

On July 6, 2012, Mr. Volonté and a number of Members of Parliament deposited a Motion for a Resolution “Combating eugenics and discrimination against people with disabilities" (attached). We are concerned that this measure would truly seek to limit women’s access to information and right to make decisions about their pregnancies.

This approach to addressing this issue is deeply disconcerting and would restrict rights instead of promoting them. We are writing to you as a Member of the Bureau who will take a decision about this motion and we urge you to prevent its referral to the Committee.

In many states in Europe women have very little choice, when deciding whether or not to raise a child with a disability. Frequently policies do not provide enough social, emotional and financial support to enable women to raise children with disabilities. Women may feel that they lack the necessary resources to provide adequate care for the child. Therefore, to enhance the rights of people with disabilities and empower women, States should enact policies that provide financial and social support to families with children with special needs.

Access to information and to reproductive health services are fundamental human rights, as recognized by many international human rights treaties including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The right of women to access all available information about their pregnancies in order to make informed decisions about their reproductive healthcare is grounded in international human rights law.

The European Court of Human Rights in its groundbreaking decision R.R. v. Poland (2011,No. 27617/04, Eur. Ct. H.R., para. 162) recognized that denying women access to prenatal tests can amount to a violation of the right to respect for private life. States should embrace an approach to disability that advances rights and freedoms, not one that limits access to information and choice. Such balanced approach is essential to upholding rather than limiting the rights both of persons with disabilities and women, whose rights are not mutually exclusive.

PACE Resolution 1642 (2009) “Access to rights for people with disabilities and their full and active participation in society,” recognized that policies should, for example, ensure that people with disabilities retain and can exercise legal capacity, grant equal access to sustainable employment, education, and health care, and penalize discriminatory practices and unacceptable attitudes towards people with disabilities.

On the contrary, Mr.Volonté’s Motion for a Resolution is underpinned by the intention to limit women’s human rights and is counter-productive, paternalistic and disingenuous. The rights of people with disabilities will not be enhanced by restricting the fundamental rights of women. Women, with or without disabilities, have the rights to reproductive autonomy, information, and choice.

The best way for States to promote the rights of individuals with disabilities and combat discrimination against them is to put into place progressive policies that support the autonomy and rights of all persons, as outlined in the CRPD and other human rights instruments.