Mar. 20, 2019

By State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Crawford/Forest)
As Majority Chairman of the House Health Committee, I am honored to once again stand together with House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and my fellow co-chair of the bipartisan House Pro-Life Caucus Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York) to champion legislation which would prohibit the abortion of a child due solely to a diagnosis of possible Down syndrome (House Bill 321).

Down syndrome is a congenital, chromosome abnormality causing developmental delays and physical limitations impacting a child’s height and facial appearance. Recent studies confirm that about 85 percent of Down syndrome-diagnosed pregnancies in the United States are terminated through abortion, which means about 34,000 Down syndrome babies have ben denied their chance to live.

What’s even more tragic, as we recognize both World and National Down Syndrome Day on March 21, is the ever-increasing number of Down syndrome abortions that are occurring around the globe.

In Britain, the abortion rate is as high as 90 percent, while abortion supporters in Iceland callously brag about eliminating all children with Down syndrome. In the larger picture, mothers from around the world are being directly pressured or advised to abort these innocent lives by genetic counselors and the culture.

Final passage of this pro-life legislation would bring an end to the implementation of this genocidal philosophy in Pennsylvania, which is unconscionably being advanced by Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider.

Under current Pennsylvania law, a woman can obtain an abortion prior to 24 weeks gestational age for any reason, except if the woman’s sole reason is to select the sex of the child. House Bill 321 would simply expand that exception to prohibit aborting a child due solely to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn child may have Down syndrome.

The legislation also contains no restrictions on a mother obtaining an abortion in cases of rape, incest or personal endangerment. Last session, similar legislation passed the House with a veto proof, bipartisan vote of 139-56.

There is simply no justifiable, economic or convenient excuse for aborting an unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome.

As we move forward with this legislation during the current session, we must always keep in mind, that 21st century medical and scientific advancements are constantly changing what it means to live with Down syndrome and other disabilities for the better. In fact, due to these extraordinary advancements, the life expectancy for babies born with Down syndrome in 2019 has been extended to age 60 and beyond.

What should never be denied is the fact that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities have contributed much to our society and will continue to do so—when we fully recognize that each of their precious lives is worth living.

Representative Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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