Society sends the message that parents aren't "capable of being able to handle and nurture and love and raise a child with special needs", Sarah Palin was quoted all over the news as saying. She added: "There is some fear there of the unknown. Certainly, there was fear in my heart about how in the world are we going to be able to handle the challenges up ahead, not necessarily thinking of the beauty that could come from a child being different, being unique."
The topic? Down Syndrome. Though Sarah Palin, as the mother of a son with Down Syndrome, has very direct experience with the issues about which she spoke, her comments didn't emerge in isolation. Palin spoke to CNN in support of a new Ohio bill that, if passed, will ban women from having abortions in response to a positive prenatal test for Down Syndrome.
The bill's supporters hope that Ohio Governor John Kasich — also a Republican presidental candidate — will sign it before Thanksgiving. Given the fact that Kasich already, as Catholic Online says, "enacted 16 anti-abortion measures and closed nearly half of the state's abortion clinics", that's hardly an unlikely move. The bill was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, and the majority of legislators are anti-abortion in this case.
Why This Bill?
A review of studies conducted between 1995 and 2011 found that between 50 and 85 percent of women who have prenatal screening that indicates their fetus may have Down Syndrome will opt to terminate their pregancy, though also noting that those numbers were lower in the later years it looked at. Supporters of the bill argue that it isn't about abortion at all, but is instead an anti-discrimination measure designed to protect individuals with Down Syndrome.
The bill isn't completely without precedent. North Dakota passed legislation preventing women from terminating a pregnancy for reasons related to any fetal genetic abnormality.
Why Do Women Abort When They Hear Their Baby Could Have Down Syndrome?
- Almost 50 percent of all babies born with Down Syndrome will suffer from congenital heart disease.
- People with Down Syndrome are also likely to suffer from poor muscle tone, hypothyroidism, blood disorders, and spine problems.
- People with Down Syndrome often face an immune system weakness that makes fighting off infections much harder — they are 12 times more likely to die from "unmonitored and untreated infections" than the general population, the National Institutes of Health say.
- Vision and hearing problems are also a possibility.