Mar. 21, 2019

Close to 100 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated before birth in Iceland. This has led to the near eradication of those with Down syndrome.

Elsewhere in Europe, nearly 90 percent of pregnancies that involve a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are ended. The numbers in the United States aren’t much better. Between 67 percent and 85 percent of children with a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome are aborted. The numbers are staggering.

But here’s where the numbers play in favor for those with Down syndrome. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent of American babies born with Down syndrome live to their first birthday and 88 percent live to their 20s. Due to advancements in care, the life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome has gone from 10 years of age in 1960 to 60 years of age today. With the average life expectancy of 78 years of age in the United State, those with Down syndrome live nearly as long as someone without it.

I can’t think of a good reason why these babies should not be afforded the chance to live and experience life. That is why I signed on as a cosponsor of Rep. Kate Klunk’s (R-Hanover) House Bill 321 to prohibit the abortion of a child due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Under current Pennsylvania law, an abortion can be performed prior to 24 weeks gestational age for any reason if a doctor deems it is necessary, except if the woman’s sole reason is to select the sex of the child. This legislation would expand the exception to prohibit aborting the child solely due to a prenatal diagnosis that the unborn baby has Down Syndrome.

To protect women, nothing in this bill 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.

We must ensure Pennsylvania doesn’t become synonymous with Iceland. We must protect these precious children.

Representative Dawn Keefer
92nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Greg Gross
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