Senate Approves Down Syndrome Protection Act


HARRISBURG – A bill that would prohibit the practice of selectively aborting babies based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome earned Senate approval today, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13), who supported the bill.

House Bill 321 would prohibit an abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Similar protections already exist to prevent babies from being aborted based solely on their gender.

Nothing in the bill would interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother. The bill is targeted only at protecting babies who would be aborted solely because of the possible presence of Down syndrome.

Martin introduced companion legislation to House Bill 321 in the Senate.

“Individuals with Down syndrome have gone on to enjoy extremely happy and fulfilling lives. There are a number of resources available to help families who face this diagnosis,” Martin said. “Individuals who have this condition should not be denied the right to exist solely because they have an extra chromosome.”

Senator Martin participated in a news conference in March in recognition of Down Syndrome Awareness Day that featured numerous individuals with Down syndrome who have distinguished themselves in academics and athletics. 

In current practice, some physicians and counselors encourage mothers to consider aborting babies who may have Down syndrome. An estimated 67 percent of fetuses prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. One study suggested the number could be as high as 90 percent in other developed countries.

“This bill aims to prevent an entire class of people from being erased on the sole basis of a disability,” Martin said. “I have been blessed to meet many people who have Down syndrome who deeply enrich the lives of their family and friends, as well as the communities where they live. This bill is an affirmation that their lives are worth living.”

CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535

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