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Defending the Lives of Down Syndrome Children in Pennsylvania
Maria Gallagher 14 November 2018
Kurt Kondrich is a true champion for life.
A former police officer, Kondrich quit his job in law enforcement to work full-time advocating for children with special needs. The cause is personal for him. His daughter, Chloe, has Down syndrome. But that diagnosis has not stopped her from accomplishing feats well beyond her years. The high school student has met the President, Vice-President, numerous lawmakers, sports figures, musicians, and many other celebrities. She has even had her photo displayed for all the world to see in New York’s Times Square.
Kondrich and his daughter have been lobbying in their home state of Pennsylvania for a bill that would ban abortions in the case of a Down syndrome diagnosis. The bill, known as House Bill 2050, passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by an overwhelming, bipartisan, veto-proof majority this past spring.
The Pennsylvania Senate adjourned for campaigning without passing the bill, which had already been reported out of committee. While there is an outside chance the bill could be voted on before the end of the year, it is more likely the legislation will be re-introduced next year.
Kondrich offers a cogent rationale for House Bill 2050, also known as the Down Syndrome Protection Act:
Children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are being identified, targeted and terminated with the instrument of abortion at an alarming rate, and this represents the ultimate, extreme form of eugenics, prejudice, bigotry, profiling, bullying, discrimination and hate.This prenatal death sentence given to a group of innocent, amazing people who have no malice or evil is a global genocide that must be stopped, and we will restore a culture of LIFE where people ‘Embrace don't erase’ Down syndrome.
It has been estimated that the vast majority of babies who receive a Down syndrome diagnosis in utero are aborted. At a time when disability rights are in the news, the case for protecting preborn babies with Down syndrome is all the more compelling.
Unfortunately, while portraying himself as an advocate for disability rights, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has threatened to veto the life-saving legislation. Wolf is on record opposing any restrictions on abortion. He once volunteered as a clinic escort for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion operation. Planned Parenthood, by its own count, commits more than 300,000 abortions each year—about a third of the total number of abortions in the country.
As part of the advocacy effort for House Bill 2050, a coalition of groups, including the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the Pennsylvania Family Institute, and the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, established a popular website—www.ProtectatDiagnosis.com. The website’s motto is “Disability rights start at diagnosis.” The site includes stories of 21 individuals who are not simply surviving, but are thriving, with Down syndrome.
Consider Olivia from Millersburg, PA:
What Olivia brings to our community is a ready smile, a feeling of joy to many who love to see her wherever she goes, whether to church, homeschool gym class, children's music class, the YMCA, the library, the doctor's office, or the grocery store. Even people who meet her for the first time often seem glad to say ‘hi’ to her--she seems to attract people. She will often notice and greet older people or someone who is sitting alone and possibly a little downcast. She loves babies and can often make them smile.
She likes to be helpful when she sees a need, such as picking up something someone drops, holding the door for someone, remembering something a person is about to leave behind, helping me navigate the laptop or my smart phone, etc. And she is only 9 years old. She has performed, a bit shyly and quietly, but bravely, at a talent show at the annual Gratz Fair, as well as at recitals and our church Christmas musical.
She currently is in cyber school with Commonwealth Charter Academy in 2nd grade and is learning to read at level, and she surprises and delights her cyber school teachers and her mother almost every day! Her brothers and sisters adore her, even though she exasperates them at times when she borrows their electronics. She is a vital part of our family, as are all of our children! We thank God for Olivia!
Also consider the accomplishments of Zach from Brookhaven, PA:
Zach is a black belt in Karate. He is an equestrian and has participated at the Devon horse-show. He is very active in Special Olympics and works three days a week at HandiCrafters. He is a productive member of the community and volunteers at a retirement community 2 times a week.
The lobbying effort for House Bill 2050 has focused renewed attention on the manner in which our society treats children with special needs. While the bill may not be passed this session, it has opened up a conversation which will continue into the new year.
Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, firstname.lastname@example.org