West Virginia Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 3, 2022   |   10:03AM   |   Charleston, West Virginia

The West Virginia state Senate has passed a pro-life measure taking another step to stop abortions and protect unborn children from abortion. Lawmakers approved a bill that would ban abortions done on babies with Down syndrome — who are often target in abortions when prenatal tests indicate the baby may have the condition.

SB 468 passed through the full senate on Wednesday on a 28-5 vote and the measure now heads to the House of Delegates.

“Marshall County Republican Mike Maroney, who is a radiologist and chairs the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, said he sees ultrasounds up to 500 times a year. Under the bill, he said that abortion cannot be performed if a woman tells the physician that it’s based on a disability,” according to a CBS News report.

The bill is titled “The Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act,” but it would apply to any and all disabilities except in the case of medical emergency and for severe fetal conditions that are “incompatible with life outside the womb.”

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Republican Sen. Mike Azinger, a sponsor of the bill, said during consideration of the bill that parents are often wrongly told their baby has Down syndrome or pressured to abort such a child.

“I see on Facebook, these parents holding a baby that was supposedly going to have all kinds of problems at birth, maybe even not live, and they’re perfectly fine,” he said. “Or, the prognosis prior to birth was not nearly as bad as what it turned out to be.”

The Unborn Child with Down Syndrome and Education Act is the cornerstone piece of legislation for West Virginians for Life (WVFL) during the 60-day session in Charleston, which began on January 12 and ends March 12.

This legislation will require that a health care practitioner that administers, or causes to be administered, a test for any physical, emotional, or intellectual disability or diagnosis to an expectant or new parent shall, upon receiving a test result that confirms the presence of any disability, provide the expectant or new parent with educational information made available by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources.

Mary Anne Buchanan of West Virginians for Life says there are instances when a wrong pre-natal diagnosis is given, such as this story from WVFL Raleigh County Chapter Leader Hilda Shorter.

“The doctor called us in and said there was a good chance that my grandson Cooper would be born with Down syndrome and told my daughter she had 10 days to decide to have an abortion. He was born perfect and is a very productive 20-year-old man. She continued, “then four years later, we were gifted with our precious grandson Dalton, who has Down syndrome. He is the love of my life and to everyone he comes in contact with!”

WVFL President Wanda Franz stated, “The medical profession must be helped to realize that asking a woman to abort her disabled, unborn baby is introducing unnecessary risks to the physical and mental health of the woman that can be fully avoided. They must begin by accepting the presence of a new human life to be valued and loved, and they must learn to provide the education to help the family to meet the needs of the new family member.”

The group added, “Abortion has become a search-and-destroy method for eliminating those considered imperfect. Screening tests for most disabilities have very high false positive rates. After receiving the results of a screening test, families often have difficulty waiting until later in pregnancy to have the diagnostic tests that provide 100% accuracy. Instead, they are being pressured to abort babies with disabilities when as many as 80% of these babies could be perfectly healthy.”

“Worldwide, a substantial body of research conducted over the past several decades has revealed that women who chose to terminate a pregnancy due to fetal anomaly are at risk for serious, prolonged mental health problems. Women who choose not to abort experience less suffering than those who terminate.”

Over 90% of family members report love and happiness living with a family member with Down syndrome. In addition, 99% of those with Down syndrome report being happy. A Marist Poll (January 2021) showed that of the 1,173 adults surveyed, 70% “oppose abortion due to the expectation a child will be born with Down syndrome.”