Rep. Estes Introduces Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act
Washington, October 30, 2019 | Greg Steele (202-225-6216)
WASHINGTON—Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) introduced H.R. 4903, the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act today. The bill will place a federal ban on the performance of an abortion because an unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
"As October is recognized as Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I am happy to champion this bill to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable in our society," said Rep. Estes. "Individuals with Down syndrome enrich countless lives and communities and deserve the same protections and opportunities under federal law, beginning with the fundamental right to life. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this common sense pro-life legislation."
The bill will make it illegal for a doctor to knowingly perform an abortion being sought because a baby has or may have Down syndrome. The legislation also prohibits anyone from forcing a woman to have an abortion because the baby has Down syndrome. Violations of the legislation face a fine and/or imprisonment up to five years. Mothers are barred from being prosecuted or held liable for any violation, ensuring responsibility to follow the legislation is on the doctors performing an abortion.
The Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act has 32 original cosponsors, including Congressman Pete Stauber (R-MN) who said, "As the proud father of a child with Down syndrome, it absolutely breaks my heart to hear that some individuals choose to terminate their pregnancy when they learn that their child will have Down syndrome. I believe every life has potential and should be protected, which is why I am proud to join Rep. Estes in introducing this critical legislation."
In the U.S. Senate, Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) will introduce a companion bill today.
“Every life has value and that extends to the unborn,” Sen. Inhofe said. “To take away the precious life of an unborn baby is murder, but to deny a child the chance at life because of his or her chromosome count is a heinous effort to eliminate a vibrant community through abortion. That’s why I am introducing a bill to prohibit abortion based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. All children should be given the chance at life and today, with the introduction of the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, we have a chance to give a voice to the voiceless and build on pro-life legislation we’ve already championed, including the Life at Conception Act, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivor Protection Act and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
To date, eight states have enacted legislation to prohibit abortion on the basis of Down syndrome while several additional states have introduced similar legislation. Approximately 67% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome while in the womb in the United States are aborted. Numerous countries in Europe have higher rates including France at 77%, Denmark at 98%, and Iceland at nearly 100%, where late-term abortions are allowed if the baby is diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act is endorsed by pro-life groups including the Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life, National Pro-Life Alliance and Americans United for Life.
“While society has come a long way in embracing our brothers and sisters with Down syndrome and supporting them in reaching their full potential, the targeting of unborn babies with Down syndrome for abortion remains a shockingly widespread problem," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. "It is high time our laws protected these vulnerable children. As we celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we thank Senator Inhofe and Congressman Estes for leading the charge to stop discrimination abortion.”
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.