Utah House Passes Bill to Save Lives of Babies with Down Syndrome
In an uphill battle to prevent discriminatory abortions, Utah passed a bill to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortions.
Following Ohio, Utah could become the fourth state in the Union to ban abortion on Down syndrome babies in response to news out of Iceland and Denmark claiming that Down syndrome has been “eradicated” in those countries.
According to a report by CBS News, nearly 100% of pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome resulted in abortion in Iceland.
“Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are discriminated against at astronomical rates. Parents whose unborn babies have Down syndrome or other disabilities frequently report feeling pressure to abort them by doctors and genetic counselors,” the Daily Wire reports.
While it is hard to determine the exact amount of abortions performed on babies with Down syndrome, “Some put the rate as high as 90% in the United States, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the U.S. government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion,” according to Life News.
The State House of Representatives passed House Bill 166, also known as Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Abortion Act, by a vote of 54-15 Friday afternoon.
The bill would prohibit women from getting abortions after a pregnancy screen indicates that their unborn child has Down syndrome and would make seeking a Down syndrome-specific abortion a Class A misdemeanor.
HB 166, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-District 14), also “requires that a pregnant woman be provided certain information before receiving an abortion when a prenatal screening or diagnostic test indicates that the pregnant woman’s unborn child has or may have Down syndrome.”
Lisonbee says too many fetuses with a Down syndrome diagnosis are being aborted, leaving the world without their unique contributions.
The attitude toward Down syndrome patients reached a bone-chilling point last year when a video surfaced of a Dutch official telling a Down syndrome man how much it costs to keep him alive.
Watching this broke my heart????.— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) December 14, 2017
This dear man who has DownSyndrome is told exactly how much he is costing society & how “expensive” he is☹️.
Why has the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (@RIVM) put a price tag to human life? Why?pic.twitter.com/RBIn6IpbKN
Last week, actor Ashton Kutcher shared on his Facebook page a viral video of a man with Down syndrome giving a speech about eugenic discrimination.
Lawmakers attempted to pass a similar bill during the 2018 legislative session, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. This year’s bill avoids the constitutional and legal problems that prevented last year’s bill from succeeding. It includes exceptions for rape, incest and risks to the mother’s life.
When HB 166 was discussed, several speakers urged lawmakers to support the bill, including Lisa Wilson, a woman with Down syndrome. Deseret News reports Wilson said she was happy she was given life.
“I am so grateful that I was blessed that I might live so that I could give and receive joy,” she said.
People with Down syndrome and their families have spoken in favor of the measure.
One Utah lawmaker, state Rep. Brady Brammer, said HB 166 makes a critical point. “Message bills do send a message that people count, and in this case, that the unborn children that have disabilities count,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Opponents say the measure is heavy-handed and takes complicated personal decisions out of the hands of women and their doctors.
Planned Parenthood of Utah has said the bill is an effort to restrict abortion, and the personal, complex decision to terminate a pregnancy should be left to families and doctors.
“The legislation approved Friday would only go into effect if a similar law is upheld in court, a provision added to address concerns that it could embroil the state in an expensive lawsuit,” according to the Associated Press.
States like Indiana, Ohio and North Dakota have led the way in banning abortions on babies with Down syndrome, despite legal battles. Other states are considering measures like the Utah legislation.
On the difficulty of enforcing the law, Lisonbee said, “I think there are ways around every law.”
“People break laws all the time, that’s why we have a criminal justice system,” she said.