Bill to ban abortions based solely on prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis introduced in Pa. Senate

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

“Incredibly important legislation.” That’s how sponsors describe a Pennsylvania bill which would provide protection for preborn babies who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Senate Bill 21, sponsored by state Senators Scott Martin (R—Lancaster County) and Judy Ward (R–Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, and Huntingdon Counties), would amend the Commonwealth’s long-standing Abortion Control Act to ban the abortion of a baby solely because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

In their co-sponsorship memo for the bill, Senators Martin and Ward said, “A test result should not be a death sentence…

“Just as gender cannot be a reason for abortion (in PA), neither should a diagnosis of Down syndrome. Most of us know of a family blessed with a Down syndrome child, and know these children grow to lead joyful and fulfilling lives,” the senators said.

They also noted that some studies demonstrate that “as many as 90 percent of children diagnosed in utero with Down are aborted.”

Last session, a similar bill, House Bill 321, won widespread bipartisan support in both the PA House and Senate, but failed to cross the legal finish line because of a veto by pro-abortion Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.

“We were extremely disappointed with the Governor’s veto but will continue to push for this legislation as we believe every child deserves and has the right to life and children with Down syndrome are no exception,” the senators said.

Several years ago Pennsylvania enacted a bill known as Chloe’s Law which provides educational support and resources to parents who have received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The measure was named in honor of Chloe Kondrich, a young woman with an extra chromosome who has become something of an ambassador for children with Down syndrome.

“Although Act 130 of 2014, known as Chloe’s Law, made progress educating parents regarding the quality of life that a person with Down syndrome can enjoy, the abortion rate for children with Down syndrome is still too high. It is time to protect Down syndrome children in the womb,” the senators stated.