Bill proposed to ban abortions based solely on Down Syndrome diagnosis

by Courtney Highfield – Harrisburg, Pa. — Senator Scott Martin is laying the groundwork for a bill that would no longer allow residents in Pennsylvania to have an abortion if the sole reason was a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

“Many Pennsylvanians know someone whose life has been touched by Down syndrome. Despite the challenges that this condition creates, individuals with Down syndrome undoubtedly can lead full, productive, joyous lives if they are given the chance to do so,” said Martin.

Right now in Pennsylvania a woman can have an abortion up to 6 months for any reason except if the decision is solely based on gender. Martin, the prime sponsor says, if passed, this bill would also ban the procedure if the reason was solely because there was a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

“Today, there are more resources available to help families who are touched by Down syndrome than ever before. In particular, our schools have made tremendous advances in educating students who are affected by this condition, and more and more young people are attending college as a result. Sadly, many physicians and counselors still push families touched by Down syndrome toward abortion instead of giving their children a chance at a happy life,” said Martin.

CBS 21 spoke with the medical outreach director, Tricia Dutterer, of the York Area Down Syndrome association, also the mother of a child with Down syndrome, who says she wants Moms making this decision to make it based on facts and wants them to know there are support networks and resources in Pennsylvania. She says when her daughter Camden was diagnosed with Down Syndrome she was worried and fearful but says now she can’t imagine her life being any different.

“At first I was scared and not sure what to expect with the future or how things would look for us as a family, if it would change our day to day life or if it would change things about us as a family but now 7 years later I can honestly say everything we wanted our family to be it still is and she’s only added to it,” said Dutterer.

We also reached out to Planned Parenthood today who sent us a statement saying, “We should ensure that people with disabilities are treated with equality and dignity. This bill would do nothing to address the serious concerns of people living with disabilities in our community, including access to health care and other services they may need. It is clear that this bill is just another attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion and not a genuine attempt to better serve people in the community.”

In December Governor Kasich signed and passed a similar bill in Ohio making it a class four felony for a doctor to perform an abortion on an unborn child that has or may have Down Syndrome.