PA House passes bill to ensure that abortions cannot be performed solely because of Down syndrome diagnosis

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House passed legislation Tuesday that ensures that an abortion provider cannot perform an abortion solely because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The bill, which would not impact those instances in cases of rape, incest or personal endangerment, passed by a vote of 117-76.

The following people and organizations issued statements:

Speaker of the House Mike Turzai – “I applaud the House members who supported House Bill 321. Pennsylvania has not allowed an abortion based on the sex of the baby since 1989, when the state enacted a provision which has not been challenged in any court. Why then would we allow an abortion because of a Down syndrome diagnosis? These babies deserve a chance at life.

House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris – “Unfortunately, with the passage of House Bill 321, it seems as though some legislators in the House who consider themselves pro-life are simply pro-birth. I say this because today we heard verbose speeches about the value of the life of a child born with Down syndrome, and make no mistake, there is abundant value in their life. The value of their life was never in question.

“However, when it comes to abortion, we have many legislators who are willing to stand up and shout their support for life from the rooftops. But where is that support when it comes to health care for children with disabilities? Where is that support when it comes to educational opportunities and assistance for children with disabilities? Where is that support when it comes to financial needs for children with disabilities?

“The hypocrisy of arguing to save someone’s life at conception but refusing to give that same life the quality education it deserves, the health care it needs, or the financial assistance its family finds essential is appalling. It’s disingenuous, spurious and misleading to call oneself pro-life and have that support end once the child is born.

“Any legislator who claims to be pro-life needs to be pro-life at every single stage of life, not just birth. They need to be pro-life and ensure every child in Pennsylvania has access to a proper education so they can achieve their highest goals. They need to be pro-life and speak out each and every time easy access to firearms ends the life of another friend or family member in our community. They need to be pro-life and stop trying to cut medical benefits to the unemployed or underemployed who rely on state benefits to stay as healthy as they can.

“The hypocrisy has to stop. I understand that this is a contentious issue, but I simply ask that anyone who considers themselves pro-life and votes in a pro-life stance, continue that stance for the entirety of someone’s life. Life doesn’t stop at birth. Pennsylvanians want real discussions about real issues that impact our lives every single day after birth, and I urge my colleagues to consider having those discussions rather than simply use the term pro-life as a political football.

“Each and every individual, from the womb until the last breath on earth, has dignity and worth. We provide state funding in the billions of dollars, as we should, to help individuals with disabilities because their lives matter. Every one of the 6,000 children born with Down syndrome in the United States each year is a beautiful, wonderful person with a meaningful life ahead.”

Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – “Today our elected leaders in the PA House were asked to make a choice: should people have the right to murder a baby because it may have Down syndrome.

“One-hundred-seventeen legislators declared that people with Down syndrome have a life worth living,” Failing continued. “We should all pray that those who voted against the bill will have a conversion of heart.”

Pennsylvania Family Institute – “Today’s vote sends a clear and compassionate message: no human being should be targeted for death by abortion because of a disability. We are grateful for today’s House vote, and for the leadership of the bill’s lead sponsor, Representative Kate Klunk (R- York County).

“We call for the Senate to act quickly to affirm this legislation and hope and pray for a change of heart by Gov. Tom Wolf — to gain his support and eventual signature for this life-saving legislation.”

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