By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
Pennsylvania student Mary Lapkowicz made national news when she accepted a prom-proposal from her friend, popular high school quarterback Ben Moser.
The reason? Mary has an extra chromosome, and so inclusion has always been a big issue for her.
But it wasn’t for Ben, who had always seen past her disability and viewed her with the eyes of acceptance.
At the time, Ben told PennLive.com, “We got balloons and I wrote ‘prom’ on it. I presented her with the balloons and asked her to go to prom with me.”
Mary’s response, as reported by PennLive.com, “I was surprised. I was going to go with some friends.”
Now, Mary is attempting to make history in Pennsylvania by lobbying for House Bill 321, the Down Syndrome Protection Act. This disability rights measure would ban abortions for the sole reason of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
A number of lawmakers thanked Mary for appearing at an all-important PA House Health Committee vote on the bill. Her mother believes she even had an impact on pro-abortion members of the committee.
Mary and her mother were also present in the gallery when the House of Representatives voted on the measure on the House floor. Mary’s presence—with her sweet disposition and winning smile—encouraged the other advocates who had been lobbying for passage of the bill.
As it turned out, the House approved the measure by an overwhelming, bipartisan majority. It is now under consideration in the PA Senate.
Mary knows that House Bill 321 is vital to the survival of people like herself. It seems that one of the last bastions of discrimination against people with disabilities lies in their mothers’ wombs.
Thanks to advances in medical treatment, Mary and others with Down syndrome now have a life expectancy of 60 years. It’s likely she has plenty of time ahead to fulfill her dreams.
But her family worries about children who are never given a chance—whose Down syndrome diagnosis is a death sentence. That is why they have gone the extra mile in advocating for House Bill 321.
Mary’s advocacy for this disability rights bill deserves just as much news coverage as her appearance at a high school prom. For, in fighting for the rights of babies with a genetic condition, Mary is attempting to change not only her home state of Pennsylvania, but also the world.
Here’s hoping that the Pennsylvania Senate will see what Mary sees—the importance of passing legislation that protects some of the Keystone State’s most vulnerable citizens and gives every person with Down syndrome a chance at life…a chance to make friends…and a chance to go to the prom.