Pro-life Advocates Praise WV’s Bold Step to Protect Unborn Children With Disabilities
Washington, D.C. – Today the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) celebrated as West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) signed the Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act (S.B. 468) into law. Sponsored by State Sen. Patricia Rucker (R-16) and Delegate Kayla Kessinger (R-32), the new law prohibits discriminatory abortions due to a disability and requires health care practitioners to provide up-to-date, evidence-based educational information to parents of a child newly diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome.
Senate Bill 468 – titled the “Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act” – will prohibit medical professionals from performing abortions solely because of a disabilty in an unborn child, such as Down Syndrome, barring a medical emergency.
Senate Bill 647 will prohibit health providers from denying an individual access to an organ transplant solely because of a mental or physical disability. The bill will also compel providers to offer special accommodations to these individuals throughout the process.
The Governor was joined for the ceremony by advocates and West Virginia children with Down Syndrome, as well as their families and their advocates. Monday marked World Down Syndrome Day.
World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day observed annually on March 21. It has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The theme of World Down Syndrome Day 2022 is, “What does inclusion mean?” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser praised West Virginia lawmakers, saying: “West Virginia takes a bold step forward today in the fight against eugenic discrimination in America. Research shows 99% of people with Down syndrome lead happy lives, yet instead of being cherished and included, far too often they are targeted for destruction in the womb where they are most vulnerable. We are proud to stand with West Virginians, the community of self-advocates and their loved ones calling on our nation to ‘embrace, not erase’ Down syndrome. “We are grateful for Governor Justice’s swift action and for all our local pro-life allies, especially our National Pro-Life Caucus members Del. Kayla Kessinger and Sen. Patricia Rucker, who worked tirelessly up to the final minutes of the session to get these vital protections enacted in the law. As we await a decision in the landmark Dobbs case, we hope the people of every state will soon have the chance to modernize our laws.” Last month the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a Tennessee law that prohibits discriminatory abortions based on sex, race or prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome to go into effect while litigation continues. The court further stated that it would wait to hear the case until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that will address whether all pre-viability abortion limits are unconstitutional. The Court heard oral arguments in the case on December 1, 2021, and a decision is expected by the summer of 2022. In 2018 West Virginia voters passed Amendment 1, a pro-life ballot initiative to stop taxpayer-funded abortions. The amendment is estimated to save 1,500 lives a year, contributing to a significant decrease in abortions in the state. Alternatives to Abortion: Pro-life pregnancy centers in West Virginia served more than 6,000 women, men, youth and families in 2019, at an estimated value of $686,000. SBA List is a network of 900,000 pro-life Americans nationwide, dedicated to ending abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.