PA House Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Down Syndrome Babies

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Posted: Apr 17, 2018 6:45 PM
PA House Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Down Syndrome Babies

The Pennsylvania House passed a bill Monday banning abortions on babies who’ve been diagnosed with Down syndrome. 

“The future has never been brighter for babies born with Down syndrome,” said state Rep. Judy Ward, one of the lead sponsors of the bill. “We’ve learned too much to accept that Down syndrome citizens should be considered anything less than full members of the community. They deserve respect and the protection of our laws.”

Even if the bill, which passed with bipartisan support 139-56, also passes the Republican-controlled Senate, it will unlikely become law, as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has expressed his opposition to the legislation. 

A spokeswoman for Wolf said the bill is "another example of Harrisburg Republicans exploiting vulnerable families and trying to undermine the doctor-patient relationship to score political points."

"Pennsylvania Republicans are trying once again to criminalize a health care decision that Gov. Wolf has been clear should be made by a woman and her doctor, not politicians in Harrisburg," said Wolf’s deputy press secretary Sara Goulet.

ACLU Pennsylvania spokeswoman Elizabeth Randol called the bill “unconstitutional.”

“It utilizes a very difficult decision for some people, and a very complex one, to exploit the people that it affects, as a wedge to try to legislate abortion control,” Randol said in a statement.

But Maria Gallagher, legislative director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, said the legislation is about rights for the disabled. 

“There is no greater form of discrimination than denying an individual the right to life,” she said. “It is time for the systematic and pervasive discrimination against people with Down syndrome to end.”

Pennsylvania law currently allows abortions for any reason, except based on the fetus’s gender, until 24 weeks.