.- Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations delivered a speech yesterday stating the Holy See’s overall approval for a new U.N. Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, but stated, for the record, the Vatican’s refusal to sign the Convention due to its inclusion of a provision that would support the abortion of babies with disabilities.
The archbishop stated that the Holy See, who has been a part of negotiations regarding the convention, is very concerned with the protection of the rights, dignity, and worth of persons with disabilities. “The Holy See has consistently called for disabled individuals to be completely and compassionately integrated into society, convinced that they possess full and inalienable human rights,” he said.
“While there are many helpful articles in the Convention, including those that address education and the very important role of the home and the family, surely the living heart of this document lies in its reaffirmation of the right to life,” Migliore continued. “For far too long, and by far too many, the lives of people with disabilities have been undervalued or thought to be of a diminished dignity and worth.”
“My delegation worked assiduously to make the text a basis upon which to reverse that assumption and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights by people with disabilities.”
The Archbishop then offered for the record, a few positions of the Holy See on the Convention. As stated by Migliore, the most important of his points was in regard to rights for reproductive and sexual health services for those with disabilities. “The Holy See,” he said, “understands access to reproductive health as being a holistic concept that does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of those terms.”
“However, even with this understanding, we opposed the inclusion of such a phrase in this article, because in some countries reproductive health services include abortion, thus denying the inherent right to life of every human being, affirmed by article 10 of the Convention.”
“It is surely tragic,” the archbishop continued, “that, wherever fetal defect is a precondition for offering or employing abortion, the same Convention created to protect persons with disabilities from all discrimination in the exercise of their rights, may be used to deny the very basic right to life of disabled unborn persons.”
“For this reason,” he said, “and despite the many helpful articles this Convention contains, the Holy See is unable to sign it.”