Rick Santorum Fights Against U.N. Treaty for People With Disabilities

Santorum's youngest daughter, Isabella, suffers from the rare genetic disorder Trisomy 18.

By + More
FE_edu_120216_santorum.jpg
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum arrives at a campaign event at the Bella Donna Chapel in McKinney, Texas.

Rick Santorum returned to the Capitol Monday to hold a press conference announcing his newest fight: against the U.N. treaty for people with disabilities.

In the audience was Santorum's wife Karen and three of his children, including his youngest daughter Isabella (known as Bella), who suffers from the rare and severe genetic disorder Trisomy 18.

[Santorum: Only Buy Christmas Gifts Made In The USA]

"I don't know if we've ever done an event with Bella," Santorum told Whispers. "We really guard her privacy. But Karen felt really strongly about it as a mom. She's a momma bear when it comes to her little girl. And she's really worried that this is something that's going to undermine her ability as a parent to do her job."

Joining Santorum was Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee from Utah and members of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit that advocates for the rights of parents who home school. The treaty, which was negotiated during the George W. Bush administration and signed by 126 countries, will be taken up by the Senate during the lame-duck session. The document essentially requires signatories to update their laws for persons with disabilities, and supporters say it could effect real change for those facing mistreatment around the world.

But Lee said he had "grave concerns" about the treaty's impact on the authority of America, and that he had gathered signatures from 36 Republicans who opposed the ratification of the treaty for similar reasons.

[Related: Santorum Makes Prenatal Testing A Campaign Issue]

Mike Farris, head of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said he worried that the treaty would give the government "unilateral ability" to impact people with disabilities while parents should "get the choice of what's best for their child." Earlier, the association had expressed concern that the treaty would allow the federal government to require children with disabilities be enrolled in public schools and not be home schooled.

"We have set leadership in the world for people with disabilities. Adopting this treaty will do nothing to improve that, or people with disabilities overseas," Santorum told Whispers. "This is undermining parents, and adopting a standard that is something that folks are justifiably afraid of—which is the state having priority over the parent as to what's in the best interest of the child."

  • Post-Election, Partisans Flock to Ideological Websites for Love
  • Despite Debt, Jill Kelley Retains High Profile Crisis Manager
  • Messina: Hurray for Old-Fashioned Door Knocking
  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.