Ohio Lawmakers Demand Down Syndrome Births


The Ohio Legislature, 131st General Assembly, House Bill 135 Short Title: Unborn child having Down Syndrome-prohibit abortion.

Long Title: To enact sections 2919.20 and 2919.201 of the Revised Code to prohibit a person from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion because of a test result indicating Down Syndrome in an unborn child or a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome in an unborn child.

Paragraph B sums it up: (B) No person shall purposely perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the person has knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of a test result indicating Down syndrome in an unborn child or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome in an unborn child.

A physician who performs an abortion on a fetus that may have an extra copy of chromosome 21, and whose parents have requested the abortion because they do not wish to have a Down Syndrome child, is subject to loss of license, and civil penalties. This act is not particularly novel. In 2013 North Dakota passed a low prohibiting abortions because of fetal genetic anomalies. Other states have banned abortions if the reason is gender selection. The North Dakota law also bans abortion after 6 weeks. That may be before a woman knows she is pregnant.

The Ohio bill, which has been heard by the House Community and Family Advancement Committee, includes a cost analysis which says that the cost of implementation will be trivial. Physicians may have a few more forms to fill out, and in suspect cases there would be investigative costs, but no major problems are envisioned.

This is an unrealistic analysis. The Guttmacher Institute published a report on the reasons women for requesting abortion. The overwhelming reason, no matter how it’s phrased, is financial. Women are unemployed, or would lose their jobs if they had to care for an infant. Others would be forced to drop out of school and lose hope of a career. Still others have a non-supportive partner. Twenty-two percent of the women were unemployed and an additional 12% had an unemployed partner. Other reasons were “Don’t feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child” and “Not ready for a(nother) child.” Thirteen percent cited “Possible problems affecting the health of the fetus.”

Speak to professionals who deal routinely with Down Syndrome children and they will tell you what a delight these children can be, but these professionals go home to their own lives and their own children. For the parents of child with trisomy 21, the demands of the child become the focus of their existence. About half of all Down Syndrome infants are born with heart defects and require surgery. Vision and hearing problems are common, and these children are at increased risk of leukemia. Beyond that, all people with Down Syndrome, if they live to maturity, develop Alzheimer’s Disease, usually by their mid to late 40s. This may require nursing home care. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires local schools to provide appropriate resources and care for children with disabilities, but the states and local school districts decide what is adequate. The web site Mom.me reports on the costs of raising a child with special needs for those who can somehow manage the costs:

• Speech Therapy: between $125-180 per hour ($6,500 annually)

• Occupational Therapy: about $100 per hour ($5,000 annually)

• Behavioral Therapy: about $75 per hour, at least 3 hours per week (upwards of $10,000+ annually)

• Life Skills Therapy: about $80 per hour, once per week ($4,000 annually)

The web site adds “For parents of children with special needs, these costs will last a lifetime and go far beyond the time a child completes college.” In some cases, Medicaid and Social Security Disability may help with the costs, but when the sponsors of the Ohio bill report that the costs will be trivial, they only mean the costs of enforcing the prohibition against abortion. They take no responsibility for the child after the moment of birth.

Sam Uretsky is a writer and pharmacist living on Long Island, N.Y. Email sdu01@outlook.com.

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2015


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