The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has addressed the United Nations General Assembly in support of the rights of disabled people. On Wednesday Mr Patrick Buckley from SPUC asked the assembly to amend a draft convention on disabled people's rights. One proposed new clause would be to ensure that: "a person with a disability shall be provided with food and fluids/nutrition and hydration, including assisted food and fluids/nutrition/hydration, necessary to preserve or sustain that person's life." Another proposed clause would ensure that: "a person with a disability shall not be denied medical treatment necessary to preserve or sustain that person's life." Mr Buckley also supported the deletion of the phrase "including sexual and reproductive health services" from a part of the convention. Supporting this deletion, Mr Buckley told the general assembly: "People with disabilities need a full range of health care; not just reproductive health. The term 'health care' is usually seen as including reproductive health care, as well as the other health care needs of people with disabilities. It is widely accepted that 'reproductive health services' include abortion. "We reject all abortion for any reason. Furthermore, genetic testing carried out to identify and eliminate babies with disabilities is particularly heinous, as is the promotion of abortion for women with disabilities." SPUC's statement was also issued on behalf of the pro-life and pro-family coalition. After the session of the general assembly, Mr Buckley said: "Disability does not make us any less human. We all need food and drink and, even if special arrangements need to be made to provide us with that, it is still a basic right. Similarly, disabled people have as much right to medical treatment as able-bodied folk. There can be no second-class citizens and no euthanasia by neglect." The general assembly is working through a so-called ad hoc committee to prepare a "Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities". It will be legally binding on so-called State Parties. It is not a UN conference or resolution, which would not have the same legal impact. The current series of meetings of the ad hoc committee was due to finish yesterday. If SPUC's proposals are to be part of the convention, they would need to be adopted by a national delegation at the committee's next meeting in August. SPUC's proposed amendments concern article 21 which is about the right to health and habitation. The deletion of "including sexual and reproductive health services" would be from sub-paragraph (a). The new section would form sub-paragraph (n).
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