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Committee OKs bill to limit Down Syndrome ‘genocide’

WASHINGTON (BP)–A Senate committee has passed legislation that could serve to reduce the killing of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome or other conditions.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, S. 1810, by unanimous consent Feb. 27.

The measure seeks to address the lack of information and support reportedly given to parents whose unborn children are diagnosed with conditions such as Down syndrome.

It has been estimated about 90 percent of American children diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome are aborted. A similar abortion percentage exists for unborn babies diagnosed with spina bifida, cystic fibrosis and dwarfism, according to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Sam Brownback, R.-Kan.

“The effect of our abortion policy at this moment is that we are in the midst of a genocide of children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other in utero genetic conditions that medical analysis can detect,” Brownback said in a commentary published in The Wichita Eagle in July, when he introduced the bill. “If we think there’s a chance the child may have a disability, too often he or she is killed in the womb, and the system seems to push it.”

The bill would require that parents whose children receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome or another impairment be provided with the latest information on the condition and be informed of support services available. This would apply to a diagnosis on a child before birth or until a year after birth. The measure also would establish a registry of families willing to adopt special needs children.

“It is difficult, sometimes overwhelming, for expecting parents to receive news that their unborn child may be born with a disability,” Brownback said in a written release after the committee’s action. “This legislation will help parents receiving such news by supplying them with current and reliable information about the many options available for caring for children with disabilities.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) made a controversial recommendation in January 2007, recommending that all pregnant women, no matter their age, be offered testing for Down Syndrome. Previously, women 35 years and older were automatically offered testing for the condition, according to ACOG. Pro-life advocates decried the recommendation, saying it would increase the number of unborn Down syndrome children targeted for elimination.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D.-Mass., is the lead cosponsor of the Brownback-authored bill.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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