OP-ED: Protecting babies with Down syndrome
A child still in the womb shouldn’t be terminated simply because he or she has Down syndrome. But this prenatal discrimination is happening, and it’s occurring at an alarming rate.
A study found that upward of 85 percent of babies diagnosed as having Down syndrome are terminated. Each year, about 6,000 children are born with Down syndrome in the United States. Since about 85 percent of Down syndrome diagnosed pregnancies end in abortion, this means about 34,000 babies aren’t given the chance to live because they have Down syndrome.
Many children born with Down syndrome lead full and productive lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent of babies born with Down syndrome live to their first birthday and 88 percent live to their 20s. Due to advancements in medicine, the life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome has gone from 10 years of age in 1960 to 60 years of age today.
No one with Down syndrome should be denied the gift of life. That is why I introduced House Bill 321 to protect vulnerable babies still in the womb.
Under current Pennsylvania law, an abortion can be performed prior to 24 weeks gestational age for any reason if a doctor deems it is necessary, except if the woman’s sole reason is to select the sex of the child. This legislation would expand the exception to prohibit aborting the child solely due to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn baby has Down syndrome.
To protect women, nothing in this bill would interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother, which are contained in different sections of the Abortion Control Act.
We have a responsibility to protect those who don’t have a voice. We have a responsibility to stand up against eugenics. And, we have a responsibility to stand up to say that a baby with Down syndrome has a right to life and should not be discriminated against in the womb.
Individuals with Down syndrome live lives full of dignity, value and love. We must embrace these lovable human beings for the amazing individuals they are and not allow policies that erase them from existence.
They are truly lives worth living.
— Kate Klunk is a Republican from Hanover representing the 169th Legislative District.