Dublin MEP Nessa Childers welcomed today’s approval in the European Parliament of a set of priorities for the full realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities, in advance of an EU Commission report to the United Nations, due this autumn.
The European Union joined the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. This was the first international Human Rights treaty that the EU became a party to.
This requires the EU to report to a specialised UN committee on its implementation of the CRPD’s provisions.
Ms. Childers was in charge of Parliament’s input from the perspective of health care rights, and her opinion was incorporated into the position approved by Parliament today.
Her areas of focus included the sexual and reproductive health of disabled girls and women, better information and resources on how to avail of specialist care elsewhere in the EU, and eliminating forms of ill-treatment such as the denial of informed consent prior to treatment.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote, Ms. Childers said:
“Our citizens’ dignity demands respect for everyone’s right to equal treatment. In practice, however, about 80 million EU citizens with disabilities face daily difficulties and barriers which deny them the enjoyment of their rights.
“Disabled women or girls are still sterilised or have pregnancies terminated against their will, and thus deprived of so much we all hold dear through physical and emotional violence that would be unthinkable for other members of society.
“No wonder, then, that women with disabilities are very vulnerable and afflicted with mental health problems, along with other groups who face discrimination on multiple fronts.
“The instances on record of mistreatment or inadequate care in EU countries must be addressed with training for healthcare workers, who often lack the sensitivity and the knowledge to respond properly to the specific needs of disabled persons.
“We are talking about difficulties experienced by 15% of our overall population, and many of us will be affected by disability at a given moment in our lives, personally or as carers.
“When it comes to fundamental rights, we are all affected, as we are all vulnerable when elementary standards of decency go unmet in our society.”