By Skyler Lee
A Pennsylvania bill could soon protect children with Down Syndrome from abortion after passing the Senate Judiciary Committee in a party line 10-5 vote Wednesday, June 13th. This comes after passing the House in April where it received bipartisan support with seven Democrats voting in favor.
If enacted, the bill would ban women from having abortions if their reasons for seeking one was based solely on the baby receiving a Down syndrome diagnosis. The state currently allows abortions up to 24 weeks for any reason other than sex selection.
The likelihood of women aborting Down syndrome babies has increased as prenatal testing has become more accurate and common. In fact, countries like Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden have promoted abortion as a tool to almost systematically eliminate every child with Down syndrome from their populations.
Supporters of the bill say it will protect a vulnerable portion of society from abortion while opponents object on the grounds the bill would supposedly force parents to raise children with disabilities.
One of the bill’s main co-sponsors Congressman Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said he believes “terminating a pregnancy based on a possible Down syndrome diagnosis is wrong, because plenty of people with Down syndrome go on to live healthy, productive lives.” This position is further proven by a 2011 survey in which of 284 people with Down syndrome, 99 percent said they were happy with their lives.
Furthermore, Kerry Cannon, who has Down syndrome herself, told 90.5 FM she is against abortion and lended advice to parents considering aborting their child with Down syndrome.
“It’s okay to be scared,” she said. “But I don’t think you should make a decision out of fear, just because the child might have Down syndrome. I feel like all people are equal.”
Although current governor Tom Wolf opposes the legalization, it has the support of republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, so the bill’s fate could come down to who wins the election in November.
This bill would be a step in the right direction, demonstrating Americans are against the eugenics other countries so proudly support.