“It was a wave of humanity that lifted us out of institutions, brought us home, got us into schools and included us in the community of life, and now it will require another wave of humanity to stop the targeting of Down syndrome around the world.”
Karen Gaffney, Disability Rights Champion
On Monday, March 12, the sponsors of legislation called the Down syndrome Protection Act and other Pennsylvania lawmakers joined advocates and families at a special event at the state Capitol in Harrisburg to call for passage of the measure.
“Every human life has dignity and is worth living – every human life,” said House Speaker Mike Turzai, one of the bill’s prime sponsors.
Rep. Turzai, along with state Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) are pushing to end the practice of selectively aborting babies based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.
Currently in the state, a woman can obtain an abortion prior to 24 weeks (gestational age) for any reason, except if the only reason is based on the sex of the child. The proposed legislation would simply add Down syndrome to that provision of current law.
Karen Gaffney, a world-renowned champion for disability rights, who became the first person with Down syndrome to swim the English Channel, highlighted the event.
“Am I not compatible with life?” Gaffney asked in her address. “We (people with Down syndrome) are more than compatible.”