Table 10: Disability and the right to life

Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Terminating life support for persons with disabilities when such decisions are made on the basis of the person’s disability.
  • Creating a distinctive period under the law that permits abortions solely on the basis of disability.
  • Endangering a person with disabilities’ life (see the CRPD recommendation to China below).
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
CRPD 10 States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others. CRPD: recommending that Hungary and Spain abolish the distinction made in the Act on the protection of the life of the fetus in the period allowed under law within which a pregnancy can be terminated, based solely on disability.  CRPD/C/HUN/CO/1 (2012), CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (2011).

CRPD: expressing concern to China about the abduction of persons with intellectual disabilities, most of them children, and the staging of “mining accidents” in Hebei, Fujian, Liaoning and Sichuan, resulting in the victim’s death in order to claim compensation from the mine owners; urging that China continue investigating these incidents, prosecute  all those responsible, impose appropriate sanctions, implement comprehensive measures to prevent further abductions of boys with intellectual disabilities and provide remedies to the victims. CRPD/C/CHN/CO/1 (2012).

CRPD 25 States shall … (f) Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability. CRPD:  expressing concern that, in Spain, guardians representing persons with disabilities deemed “legally incapacitated” may validly consent to termination or withdrawal of medical treatment, nutrition or other life support for those persons. The Committee reminded Spain that the right to life is absolute, and that substitute decision-making in regard to the termination or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment is inconsistent with that right. Requested that Spain ensure that the informed consent of all persons with disabilities is secured on all matters relating to medical treatment, especially the withdrawal of treatment, nutrition or other life support.  CRPD/C/ESP/CO/1 (2011).