President Bush Signs Pro-Life Bill to Ban Genetic Discrimination Into Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Signs Pro-Life Bill to Ban Genetic Discrimination Into Law

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — On Wednesday, President Bush signed a bill to ban genetic discrimination into law and satisfied the concerns of pro-life groups. With the genetic testing of unborn children becoming more common, the bill helps them receive further protection.

The measure 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.

"I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve joined us as I sign the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, a piece of legislation which prohibits health insurers and employers from discriminating on the basis of genetic information," President Bush said yesterday afternoon as he signed the bill.

"In other words, it protects our citizens from having genetic information misused, and this bill does so without undermining the basic premise of the insurance industry," he added.

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 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."

McQuade and other pro-life advocates thanked pro-life Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan for making sure the bill covered unborn children as well as children after birth.

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.