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.

Down Syndrome Reality Show Wins New Season

After receiving a half-dozen Emmy nominations, new episodes of a reality show following a group of young people with Down syndrome are on the way.

A&E Network said it has renewed “Born This Way” for a fourth season.

The show, which centers on seven young adults with Down syndrome and their families, will return with eight new episodes, the network said.

“Over the past three seasons, ‘Born This Way’ has been a prime example of quality storytelling that motivates us to celebrate and embrace diversity,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, head of programming for A&E Network. “We are honored to reunite with these incredible young adults and their families as they fearlessly share their accomplishments, struggles and dreams, shifting society’s perception about differences along the way.”

A Drug for Down Syndrome

Early in the evening of June 25, 1995, hours after the birth of his first and only child, the course of Dr. Alberto Costa’s life and work took an abrupt turn. Still recovering from a traumatic delivery that required an emergency Caesarean section, Costa’s wife, Daisy, lay in bed, groggy from sedation. Into their dimly lighted room at Methodist Hospital in Houston walked the clinical geneticist. He took Costa aside to deliver some unfortunate news. The baby girl, he said, appeared to have Down syndrome, the most common genetic cause of cognitive disabilities, or what used to be called “mental retardation.”

Yorkers With Down Syndrome Get National Recognition

On Sept. 17, two Yorkers will have their photos presented on the Jumbotron screen in Times Square at the annual National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk in New York City.

The Buddy Walk, which is a national event, has been hosted in New York since 1995 to create Down syndrome awareness and offer a day of support for those with the genetic disorder.

Photos of Michael Graff, 15, and Austin Schuster, 12, were selected for the event. Their photos, submitted by moms Samantha Dorm, of Conewago Township, and Tiffany Schuster, of Wrightsville, were just two of the 2,000 pictures sent to the National Down Syndrome Society to be considered.

The photos of Michael and Austin will be shown alongside 400 other selected photographs from around the world featuring individuals with Down syndrome. “We have a long way to go with inclusion and acceptance, but we’re on the right track,” said Schuster.

Both Dorm and Schuster are part of the York Area Down Syndrome Association, where Dorm participates as an active member and Schuster serves as board president.

On Oct. 1, the local organization will host its 12th annual Buddy Walk at Dallastown Area Middle School, where the group intends to spread the message of acceptance to more than 500 attendees.