President to Sign Bill to Protect Disabled Unborn Children
Special Report - September 29, 2008
President Bush is expected to sign a bi-partisan bill aimed at curbing the incidence of abortion of children diagnosed prenatally with Down Syndrome. “S. 1810Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act,” sponsored by the unusual duo of Sen. Sam Brownback (RKS) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (DMA) passed the Senate unanimously September 23 and then passed the House later in the week. The measure allots $25 million over five years in federal funding for research, information, and support services for the parents of children with Down Syndrome. It provides for accurate, up-to-date information and specific support services for parents of children diagnosed with disabilities, including Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and cystic fibrosis, prenatally or up to a year after birth. The bill establishes a national clearinghouse of information for these parents, expands peer-support programs, and education programs for health care providers. In addition, a national registry of families who are willing to adopt children diagnosed with a disability will be created.
An American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology report by Dr. Brian Skotko found that obstetricians and genetic counselors overwhelmingly focus on the negatives of these prenatal diagnoses and provide limited out-of-date information to parents. The sponsors of the bill say they were motivated by reports that upwards of 80 percent of children are aborted, after being diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome. “The effect of this sort of ‘weeding out’ is creating a new eugenics, a form of systematic, disability based discrimination,” according to lead sponsor Sen. Sam Brownback (RKS). Senator Ted Kennedy (DMA) believes that “access to the best support and information about the condition, and the quality of life for a child born with that condition, can make all the difference to a woman trying to make an informed and difficult decision.” He added that “this kind of support is a vital element to strengthening a true culture of life in America.”
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