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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 29, 2020 10:43 AM
From: Representative Kate A. Klunk
To: All House members
Subject: Down Syndrome Protection Legislation
I plan to re-introduce legislation amending the Abortion Control Act to prohibit the abortion of any child solely due to a diagnosis of possible Down Syndrome. Last session, this legislation passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 117-76.  The bill also passed in the Senate but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Wolf.  Despite Governor Wolf’s disappointing veto, I will continue to push for this legislation every child deserves and has the right to life and children with Down syndrome are no exception.

Under current law, a woman can obtain an abortion prior to 24 weeks gestational age for any reason if a physician deems it is necessary, except if the woman’s sole reason is to select the sex of the child. This bill will expand that exception to prohibit aborting the child solely due to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn child has Down Syndrome. Nothing in this proposal would interfere with the existing ability of a woman to obtain an abortion in cases of rape, incest or endangerment to the mother, which are contained in different sections of the Abortion Control Act.

Most of us know of a family touched by a Down Syndrome child, and know these children grow to lead joyful and fulfilling lives.

At a March 12, 2018 rally in the rotunda on this issue, Dr. Karen Gaffney, an accomplished swimmer and public speaker who became the first living person with Down Syndrome to receive an honorary doctorate from a college or university shared her thoughts on why these children need protection:

“Those of us with Down Syndrome and our families face a very difficult future. We face a possibility of wiping out all of the tremendous progress we have made. Just as we are making so much progress, a whole industry has grown up focused on prenatal screening – screening that would end our lives before we take our first breath. Now that you can test for Down Syndrome before birth, there are many experts in the medical community that say this extra chromosome we carry around is not compatible with life. Not compatible with life? After everything we have done, I would say we are more than compatible. We are what life is all about. Our lives are worth living and our lives are worth learning about.”

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.

Introduced as HB1500