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Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Protecting Down Syndrome Babies from Search and Destroy Missions

Maria Gallagher  |  10 October 2019

This fall, two events converged in a way that dramatized the sanctity of all innocent human life. Across the country, people from all walks of life observed both Respect Life month and Down Syndrome Awareness month in October.


The pair of observances were especially significant this year in Pennsylvania, where members of the state Senate are considering House Bill 321, the Down Syndrome Protection Act. This important piece of legislation would ban abortion for the sole reason of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.


The PA House of Representatives passed the measure last spring by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority. It remains a popular bill, despite relentless lobbying by abortion giant Planned Parenthood to thwart the legislation. Planned Parenthood is so committed to anytime, anywhere abortions that the organization is even willing to risk being labeled prejudiced against people with special needs. In fact, there is no abortion limit which Planned Parenthood will accept.


One of the hallmarks of the Down Syndrome Protection Act is that it gives a face to “choice.” In other words, it becomes harder to argue for unlimited abortion when a person with intellectual disabilities is standing before you, pleading that the lives of babies with similar disabilities be preserved. Karen Gaffney spoke at a news conference at the PA Capitol last year. Gaffney has Down syndrome, but that did not stop her from swimming the English Channel or earning an honorary doctorate. As Gaffney eloquently stated, “Those of us with Down syndrome and our families face a very difficult future. We face a possibility of wiping out all of the tremendous progress we have made. Just as we are making so much progress, a whole industry has grown up focused on prenatal screening—screening that would end our lives before we take our first breath.”


Officials in Iceland  have bragged about eradicating Down syndrome in their country. But the truth was, people with Down syndrome were being eliminated because of prenatal diagnoses that led to widespread abortion. The systematic targeting of unborn babies with an extra chromosome has led to a public outcry the world over.     


PA House Speaker Mike Turzai (R—Allegheny County) is a prominent supporter of HB 321. Turzai said, “Each and every individual, from the womb until our last breath on earth, has dignity and worth. We provide state and federal funding to help individuals with disabilities because their lives matter. No abortion provider should abort an unborn child because she or he has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Each and every one of the 6,000 children born with Down syndrome in the United States each year is a beautiful, wonderful person with a meaningful life ahead.”


The Down Syndrome Protection Act still faces daunting odds in Pennsylvania. Only a few session days remain for the PA Senate this year. If the legislation’s consideration is postponed until next year, some lawmakers may be reluctant to bring it up for a vote since 2020 promises to be a volatile election year, with pro-abortion forces targeting pro-life lawmakers.


The legislation also faces the prospect of veto from Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, who has pledged to stop any and all restrictions on abortion in the Keystone State. Wolf’s pro-abortion advocacy dates back decades, to when he served as a volunteer clinic escort at Planned Parenthood, ushering women into the facility for their abortions.


Still, even though the odds may be daunting, pro-life advocates continue the push for the legislation. They reason that HB 321 has been a tremendous education tool, informing the public about the high incidence of abortion among babies with Down syndrome. The measure has also energized many families around the Commonwealth who say they have been blessed abundantly by a family member with special needs.


Indeed, some of the most passionate proponents of HB 321 are Kurt Kondrich and his 16-year-old daughter, Chloe, who has Down syndrome. Chloe has become something of a good will ambassador for children with Down syndrome, meeting the President, the Vice-President, musical artists, and sports stars. Indeed, she has accomplished more in her young life than many people with 80 years on the planet. The Kondriches have found a number of allies in the PA legislature, who believe that legal protection of babies with Down syndrome is long overdue.      


State Rep. Kate Klunk (R-Hanover) is the primary sponsor of HB 321. Klunk has spoken out strongly against the eugenic agenda of those who would target babies with Down syndrome in the womb.


“Aborting babies based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is a slippery slope toward larger societal genetic engineering,” Klunk said. “Those with Down syndrome should not be discriminated against because they have an extra chromosome and they should not be denied the chance at life. These are truly lives worth living.”


Maria GallagherLegislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life

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