House Approves Pro-Life Genetic Discrimination Ban, Heads to President Bush

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

House Approves Pro-Life Genetic Discrimination Ban, Heads to President Bush

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 1
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Senate-approved genetic discrimination ban that now heads to President Bush for his signature. The bill bars employers and health insurers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their own or their family members’ genetic information.

Health insurance companies would be prohibited from basing enrollment or premium decisions on the results of genetic tests and employers couldn’t rely on them to making hiring, assignment or promotion decisions.

Pro-life groups say the bill helps protect the disabled, who can easily become victims of discrimination.

They also worry the use of genetic tests could lead to the abortion of unborn children diagnosed with physical or mental disabilities and point out that about 80 percent of babies with Down Syndrome become victims of abortion.

The Senate approved the bill last week on a 95-0 vote and the House followed suit with a 414-1 vote.

After the passage of the Senate bill, Deirdre McQuade, a pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told she’s pleased with the vote.

“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."

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

It will also "empower families to welcome vulnerable children with special needs into their lives."

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 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.