As South Dakota’s legislature considers a ban on abortions due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, pro-life leaders say the bill would prevent “a modern-day form of eugenics.”
“Eliminating young lives is not the answer to eliminating disease and disability once a risk of the disorder is identified,” said Tara Sander Lee, director of life sciences at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, in her planned testimony before South Dakota state legislators on Wednesday.
“Destroying the patient is not curative medicine,” Lee said of discrimination abortions. “Such acts become a modern-day form of eugenics.”
Lee testified in front of state legislators on legislation, HB 1110; the bill prohibits doctors from performing abortions when they know the mother is seeking the abortion either because the unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, or because a prenatal screening indicates the unborn child has Down syndrome.
Gov. Kristi Noem (R), in her Jan. 12 state of the state address, called on the legislature to pass a ban on abortions conducted because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
“The Declaration of Independence summarizes what we all know in our hearts to be true—that God created each of us and endowed all of us with the right to life. This is true for everyone, including those with an extra chromosome,” Noem said to applause from audience members.
On Wednesday, Lee testified before state legislators along with Sue Liebel, director of state policy for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, and Katie Shaw, a pro-life lobbyist and advocate for anti-discrimination abortion laws who also has Down syndrome.
Similar “discrimination abortion” bans have been introduced in other states. While some have been challenged in court, an Indiana bill was signed into law by then-Gov. Mike Pence in 2016.
In the United States, an estimated two out of every three pregnancies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome result in abortion. This figure is even higher in some European countries; Iceland has regularly had fewer than four babies with Down syndrome born each year.
“We need to consider these young individuals as equally valued human lives,” Lee stated.
In her testimony, Liebel said that a society which prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness should never view Down syndrome as a “death sentence.”
“While tremendous advances have been made toward full acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome, shamefully, they are on the verge of being eliminated in some parts of the world,” she said.
Liebel said it “is time our laws caught up with basic compassion and overwhelming public opinion.”
Meanwhile in Illinois, lawmakers are continuing their push to overturn the requirement that a minor seeking an abortion notify her parents of her intent.
Presently, Illinois law requires that a girl of age 17 or younger who wishes to have an abortion notify either a parent or adult family member that she wants to have an abortion; she may request a judicial bypass from the courts to receive an exemption.
The bill, HB1797, introduced by Rep. Anna Moeller (D), would repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 as well as any penalties associated with providing an abortion to a minor without parental notification.
According to Illinois Right to Life, the number of minor girls getting an abortion dropped by 20% five months after the 1995 law went into effect; the number of abortions performed on girls aged 14 or younger dropped by nearly a third.
The age of consent for sexual activities in Illinois is 17, with exceptions for partners close in age.