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.

Congress should give it up for Down syndrome research

On levels both moral and practical, Congress has for years been failing those born with Down syndrome and their families. We hope the new year brings about a stark reversal in the second-class treatment this unique population is receiving.

Lawmakers should greatly increase Down syndrome funding for research and assistance. According to analysis by the Denver-based Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the syndrome is one of the least funded genetic conditions supported by the National Institutes of Health, yet it is the leading cause of developmental disability. In 2001, NIH spent $29 million for Down syndrome research, a figure that plummeted to as low as $14 million even as NIH’s budget grew. Had funding tracked with that of NIH, spending on the syndrome from 2001 to 2017 would have more than doubled the $356 million allocated.

Yet Down syndrome funding is likely to see a 22 percent decrease in 2018, from $27 million to $21 million, when the reality on the ground suggests it should be much greater.

During this long period of neglect, thinking about Down syndrome has begun to change. Advances in education and care have improved life expectancy from 28 years in the 1980s to 60 years today. Quality of life and cultural acceptance have improved.

As Michelle Sie Whitten, the president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, put it to us, there has been a mini population explosion. Fewer women are choosing to end pregnancies. In 2002, Down syndrome babies numbered 1 per 1,000 births. Today it’s 1 per 691.

Whitten says there are likely more than 430,000 thousand people with Down syndrome living in the United States presently, and now that many will outlive their parents, research and aid will only become increasingly important.

Meanwhile, groundbreaking work (much of being done here in Colorado by the Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the Sie Center for Down Syndrome and the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center) suggests research into this unique population with its extra chromosome can lead to discoveries beneficial to the broader population. The nature of the syndrome offers many opportunities, as those born with it are far more susceptible to leukemia or suffer from an autoimmune disorder, and all of them will develop the brain pathology of Alzheimer’s in their 40s. And yet they are all but impervious to solid tumor cancers and heart attack. What might greater research into the particular disease spectrum and genetic differences discover to assist others with those afflictions?

In October, the actor and Special Olympian Frank Stephens gave landmark testimony before a Congressional committee. In urging greater funding for Down syndrome research, he pointedly addressed the bias behind the anemic current levels, saying, “Sadly, across the world, a notion is being sold that maybe we don’t need research concerning Down syndrome. Some people say prenatal screens will identify Down syndrome in the womb and those pregnancies will just be terminated.”

Certainly, we support a woman’s right to chose in this and other situations. But given the promising work already being done in Down syndrome research, the need for better information for pregnant women to help them make their choice, and the needs of the many families who do have Down syndrome members, the current federal approach would be as wrongheaded as it would be inhumane.

21-year-old with Down syndrome builds successful business with his father

HUNTINGTON, New York, January 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A successful business co-founded by a young man with Down syndrome to make people happy is attracting more attention after a video was posted online recently that told its uplifting story.

The media had paid some attention to John’s Crazy Socks since its December 2016 founding, but a BBC News video on Facebook showcasing the company’s story has some 24 million views since it was posted January 15.

“Down syndrome never holds me back,” 21-year-old John Cronin says in the video. “We’re spreading happiness through socks.”

John’s Crazy Socks made $1.4 million in its first year of business. But the story behind the company – captured in the video – effectively illustrates how that even when there’s an extra chromosome human life is precious.

“We both are absolutely committed to the vision we have,” John’s dad, Mark Cronin, states in the video. “And we both know we need each other.”

“I couldn’t do this without John,” Mark Cronin adds. “And you probably couldn’t do this without me, right John?”

“Right Dad,” his son chimes in.

John Cronin wanted to start a business with his dad after he finished high school. The primary idea was for it to be a fun store, John said.

The father and son had to figure out what that concept actually meant.

John then had the thought of opening a food truck.

“But we had a problem,” Mark Cronin says in the video, before turning to his son, “What was the problem?”

“Both of us can’t cook,” John Cronin replies.

Mark Cronin then asks his son to share his next idea.

“And I wanna sell socks because I wore crazy socks my entire life,” he says. “Because I do something, like, fun and (to) be creative.”

So it began with John Cronin’s love of colorful and fun socks, what he calls his “crazy socks.”

That led to John’s Crazy Socks.

Mark Cronin, who has experience in startups and currently leads an organization that develops online informational sites and niche online stores, handles the technical aspects of the business, including accounting, inventory management and staffing.

The company has a presence on several social media platforms, where John Cronin is spokesman.

John’s Crazy Socks offers roughly 1,200 different types of socks. Most have colorful or otherwise whimsical designs. There is also a Sock of the Month Club, the selection of which is made by John each month.

“We have all sorts of socks,” said Mark Cronin.

The company has four “Happiness Through Socks” principles: inspiration — showing what’s possible; giving back; socks you can love, and gratitude.

Customers get a thank-you note from John and some candy with each order. And for those living on Long Island, John delivers the sock order himself. The BBC video shows a customer hugging John as he makes a delivery to her.

John’s Crazy Socks employs a full-time staff of 12, eight of whom are disabled in some way. It also donates 5 percent of its profits to Special Olympics.

John Cronin designs specific socks to raise funds of charities. Some of those include Down syndrome and Autism awareness, Special Olympics and breast cancer research.

“It is never enough to simply conduct your business,” the company website information says. “It is incumbent on us to give back.”

The Long Island, New York-based online shop went from $14,700 in sales when it opened in December 2016 to $350,000 in March 2017, according to an April 2017 TIME report — without any marketing. The growth had already forced the Cronins to move the operation to a bigger building to meet the demand.

“Ours is a business built on love,” the company website states. “We’re on a mission to spread happiness through socks.”

“And we’re having fun,” Mark Cronin states in the BBC video. “We’re spreading happiness. What’s better than that?”