Rep. Estes Introduces the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kansas) introduced the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act. This bill honors the rights of individuals with Down syndrome by federally banning doctors from knowingly performing an abortion because a baby received a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

“It’s tragic that in the United States babies are being targeted simply because they have one more chromosome,” said Rep. Estes. “This legislation is about ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities are protected.”

The legislation also prohibits anyone from forcing a woman to have an abortion because the baby has Down syndrome. Violators can face a fine, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. 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 Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act earned support in both chambers of Congress. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minnesota) is one of the bill’s original 29 cosponsors in the House.

“As a 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 their child will be born with Down syndrome,” said Rep. Stauber. “Every life has potential and must be defended, which is why I am proud to help lead legislation that will prohibit discriminatory abortion. I look forward to championing this bill and working with my colleagues to create a more just and inclusive society.”

Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) introduced a companion bill in the Senate today with 21 original cosponsors.

“Today, I am introducing a bill alongside my colleagues to prohibit abortions that are sought because of a Down syndrome diagnosis—something that should already be law,” Sen. Inhofe said. “All children should be given the chance at life and our friends in the Down syndrome community are no exception. To take away a child’s life because of his or her chromosome count is unthinkable and I am proud to take a stand today on behalf of those who cannot. As we mark the annual March for Life, we must continue to affirm the sanctity of life.”

Tragically, babies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome face an abortion rate of 67% in the United States. So far, eight states have enacted legislation to prohibit abortion on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

Sara Hart Weir, former president and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society, said, “I am proud to support the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act and commend Congressman Estes for his leadership. I’ve had the privilege of knowing many, many individuals with Down syndrome over the last 20 years and know firsthand that these individuals are a gift to all of us. I’d encourage anyone who doubts their worth and meaning to ask the next person (with Down syndrome) they talk to or meet if their life matters.”

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.

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