“We’re raising the concern in Pennsylvania because of some tragic trends in European countries. In Iceland, they’ve become notorious for the claim that Down syndrome has been nearly eliminated. What they fail to mention is that Iceland has a 100 percent abortion rate of pre-born children with this diagnosis,” says Pennsylvania’s Speaker of the House Representative Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny).
Rep. Turzai and state Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) are pushing to end the practice of selectively aborting babies based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome by introducing legislation in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
According to recent reports, at the turn of the 20th century a baby diagnosed with Down syndrome was not expected to live past his or her 10th birthday. In 2018, the life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome has been extended to age 60 and beyond.
“Many of our local communities are home to individuals with Down syndrome, and each and every day, they prove that people with this condition can live happy, healthy and productive lives,” says a statement released by Sen. Martin. “My bill is designed to protect their most basic right – to exist. It aims to prevent an entire class of people from being erased on the sole basis of a disability.”
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.
On Monday, March 12, the sponsors the legislation and other Pennsylvania lawmakers will join advocates and families at a special event at the state Capitol in Harrisburg to urge passage of House Bill 2050 and Senate Bill 1050.
The event will feature Karen Gaffney, a world-renowned champion for disability rights, who became the first person with Down syndrome to swim the English Channel.
Want to voice your support? Send a message to your lawmaker today through the Catholic Advocacy Network.