Florida House lawmakers advanced a pro-life bill Tuesday to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities from eugenic, discriminatory abortions.
Sponsored by state Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, the legislation would prohibit abortionists from doing abortions if the reason is because an unborn baby has been diagnosed with a disability, such as Down syndrome. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk.
Republican lawmakers emphasized the importance of protecting unborn babies from discrimination during the committee meeting, according to the report.
“This bill acknowledges that these are lives worth living and that they add value and make a contribution,” said state Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merrit Island, “whether it’s in arts or in music, or just bringing smiles to the people around them, or even if it’s just simply feeling the sunshine on their face.”
Earlier this spring, Grall told Democrats opposed to the bill that “the killing of a child” can never be “health care.”
But Democrats continued to push back against the legislation Tuesday, arguing that abortion is a “woman’s fundamental right,” according to the report.
“It’s another layer of shame on top of a difficult decision,” said state Rep. Kelly Skidmore, D-Boca Raton. “We already know ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ doesn’t work. This is another version. I just don’t believe that this is helping the disability community in the way that you believe it is.”
The Florida Senate is considering an identical bill, Senate Bill 1664, sponsored by state Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Doral, the Hernando Sun reports.
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Andrew Shirvell, executive director of Florida Voice for the Unborn, previously praised lawmakers for taking action to protect babies with disabilities.
“Children who are diagnosed with Down syndrome or another genetic disability prior to their birth should not be targeted for extermination,” he said. “They are God’s children and have the same right to life as all other persons.”
Meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood abortion chain opposed the bill, arguing that the decision to abort an unborn baby with disabilities should be between parents and their doctor.
A number of states have passed laws to protect unborn babies from discrimination in recent years amid mounting statistics showing that babies with disabilities frequently are targeted for abortions.
Recent reports in The Atlantic and CBS News found that nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland, 95 percent in Denmark and 77 percent in France.
The deadly discrimination is getting worse with advances in prenatal testing. The Telegraph reports a recent article in the European Journal of Human Genetics found that the number of babies with Down syndrome born in the UK dropped 54 percent since the non-invasive prenatal screening tests became available about a decade ago.
South Dakota lawmakers unanimously approved a law in March to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortions. Arkansas, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana also passed pro-life anti-discrimination laws, but most are being blocked in court.
Parents frequently report feeling pressured to abort unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities. One mom recently told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times, including right up to the moment of her baby’s birth. Another mother from Brooklyn, New York said doctors tried to convince her to abort her unborn son for weeks before they took “no” for an answer.