Dispelling the Myths About Down Syndrome

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative/PAC Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Executive Director Michael Ciccocioppo
with disability rights activist Chloe Kondrich

With spring just around the corner, many thoughts turn to sweet sunlit days, relaxing nights at the ballpark, and that teenage rite of passage, the prom.

I thought it would be a good time, then, to revisit one of the most encouraging news stories of the past few years. It involves a popular high school quarterback who decided to ask his beloved friend to the prom–a young woman with Down syndrome.

Pennsylvanian Ben Moser’s prom-posal made national news–“We got balloons and I wrote ‘prom’ on it. I presented her with the balloons and asked her to go to prom with me,” Ben was quoted as saying on PennLive.com.

Mary Lapkowicz responded, “I was surprised. I was going to go with some friends.”

Now, a few years later, Mary is happily attending college. The prom is a treasured memory, but her future is incredibly bright. Her disability is not standing in the way of her dreams.

Unfortunately, too many people are unaware of the tremendous contributions people with Down syndrome are making in our communities. They wrongly consider the genetic abnormality to be a death sentence, even though life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is now 60 years of age.

This is why House Bill 2050 is so important. The measure, which has been introduced with more than 70 co-sponsors in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, would ban abortion in cases where the sole reason for the abortion is a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Mary Lapkowicz is not allowing an extra chromosome to prevent her from achieving her goals. She and other people with Down syndrome deserve our utmost respect. And that starts with respecting their inherent right to life.