On April 16, by a vote of 139-56, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill that would prohibit the abortion of a child based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis.
The measure was authored by House Speaker Mike Turzai of Allegheny County and Representative Judy Ward of Blair County.
“I believe in the dignity of every human being,” stressed Turzai. “None of us are born perfect, and we all have something beautiful to contribute.”
Ward believes the future has never been brighter for babies born with the condition.
“Medical and social advances have changed what it means to live with this condition,” she stated. “Down syndrome means that opportunities exist in every area of school, community and even professional life. We’ve learned too much to accept that Down syndrome citizens should be considered anything less than full members of the community. They deserve respect and the protection of our laws.”
Bishop Mark discussed the legislation during one of his recent segments on Proclaim! TV.
“During this Easter season, we celebrate a new life in Christ – the gift of eternal life, but we are also responsible for the gift of human life that God has given to every single person,” said the Bishop. “This is an opportunity for us to take note of that, and hopefully the right thing will be done in our Legislature.”
The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown joins the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public affairs arm of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, in support of the bill.
“The Catholic Conference has always taken a strong stance on protecting all life from conception to natural death,” remarked Eric Failing, PCC Director of Social Concerns. “It is imperative that our respect for human dignity extends to all of our brothers and sisters including, and especially, those with Down syndrome or other disabilities.”
After a decisive victory in the House, the legislation will be considered in the Senate.
“We pray that it will get another vote of overwhelming support there before heading to the governor,” Failing said. “We hope all Catholics will join us in praying that the Holy Spirit opens the minds and hearts of our elected leaders and gives them the courage to always uphold the dignity of life.”
Lawmakers are influenced by contact from their constituents, Failing reminded. The faithful may voice their support directly to their state senators through the Catholic Advocacy Network.