Senate Approves Genetic Discrimination Ban, Pro-Life Advocates Applaud Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Approves Genetic Discrimination Ban, Pro-Life Advocates Applaud Vote

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 24
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The Senate voted 95 to 0 to pass the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act on Thursday, which bars employers and health insurers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their own or their family members’ genetic information. Pro-life groups say the bill helps protect the disabled.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a nearly identical bill by a vote of 420 to 3 this time last year.

Deirdre McQuade, a pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told they’re very happy with the passage of the Senate bill.

“Today the Senate took a stand for some of the most vulnerable members of the human family, whether born, yet to be born, or placed for adoption," she said. "No one should be discriminated against on the basis of genetic testing."

She said the Catholic bishops were particularly grateful to Rep. Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat from Michigan.

McQuade said he "ensured that this bill’s protection against discrimination will cover the families of unborn children with adverse prenatal diagnoses, as well as children being adopted."

“His advocacy on their behalf will empower families to welcome vulnerable children with special needs into their lives," she added.

After minor technical differences between the House and Senate bills are resolved, McQuade said she looked forward to President Bush signing the bill.

The issue of genetic discrimination is important enough to the pro-life community that Regent University, a Virginia-based Christian college, launched a new institute in October to study how abortion and euthanasia are targeting the disabled community.

The new organization will examine how the practices have created a multitude of human rights abuses ranging from sex-selection abortions to discrimination.

Billing itself as a "multicultural response to medical and cultural trends impacting people with disabilities, the Institute for the Study of Disability and Bioethics will examine these sensitive topics.

Mark P. Mostert, who will oversee the new center, calls the targeting of the disabled a global “silent war."

"Medical and other scientific advances have improved the lives of people with disabilities in many ways. Rapid advances in genetic and other research mean that we now know more about what causes many disabilities than ever before," Mostert says on the group’s web site.

"However, progress has a more difficult side. Science can now detect genetic anomalies in the womb, and culturally there is greater acceptance than ever before for abortion or euthanasia for those who, in others’ judgment, will not, or cannot live a high-quality life," Mostert adds.