While both chambers passed the Down syndrome abortion ban, Wolf, a Democrat, defended his veto in a statement posted online, regurgitating progressive propaganda about supporting women’s rights and finding other ways to help women with “complex pregnancies.”
“This legislation is a restriction on women and medical professionals and interferes with women’s health care and the crucial decision-making between patients and their physicians. Physicians and their patients must be able to make choices about medical procedures based on best practices and standards of care. The prohibitions under this bill are not consistent with the fundamental rights vested by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution,” he said.
“Further, I am not aware of a single disability rights group that supports this bill. I support continuing the bipartisan work that’s been done to help people with disabilities. I also believe there is much more Pennsylvania could do to help women and families facing complex pregnancies. However, this bill does not aid in either of these efforts.”
Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is the second-largest in the nation, and so this veto is worth noting, especially since both chambers managed to pass the bill. The House passed the bill by a large majority in May, 117–76; the Senate passed the bill in late November, 27–22. During that vote, one Democrat and one independent joined with the Republicans.
State Rep. Kate Klunk, a Republican, sponsored H.B. 321. The bill didn’t make any other changes to Pennsylvania’s abortion law, and the state is already an outlier on abortion restrictions: It’s one of only a handful of other states that allow abortions until 24 weeks of pregnancy (with the exception of Virginia, which allows them until 25) for any reason other than a child’s sex. (This is now just past the point of “viability,” as many babies have been known to survive and thrive when born this early, provided they have significant medical intervention.)
Klunk’s bill even granted exceptions for rape, incest, or medical emergencies.
Conservatives are disappointed because they know this veto means the gateway to modern-day eugenics remains open.
Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, said in a statement: “Governor Tom Wolf believes it’s just fine to kill babies in the womb solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of a disability. That is eugenics. That’s wrong.”
State Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) echoed a similar sentiment to a local news station, saying: “This is eugenics. This is not health care.” Martin argued the bill would have protected vulnerable, voiceless babies who often grow up to lead happy, productive lives.
Eugenics via prenatal testing, such as the tests that reveal Down syndrome, are increasingly prevalent. It’s not uncommon for doctors, friends, and family members to pressure women to abort babies that receive the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis already allows IVF parents to select a baby’s gender and eye color. The reverse—aborting a baby because of the “wrong” characteristics—might become commonplace, even encouraged.
The United States isn’t as far off from pursuing eugenics as a means of population control. In Iceland, Down syndrome children have nearly disappeared because almost all of the pregnancies that showed a positive prenatal test for Down syndrome have been aborted.
According to CBS News: “Other countries aren’t lagging too far behind in Down syndrome termination rates. According to the most recent data available, the United States has an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent (1995–2011); in France, it’s 77 percent (2015); and Denmark, 98 percent (2015).”
While Wolf stated he vetoed the bill over concern for women’s rights granted in Roe v. Wade, it seems like more of an attack on babies with Down syndrome than a move to protect women. It’s not Wolf’s place to make a value judgment on the life of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome—this is unscientific and unethical.
Progressives are attempting to make the United States a society that weighs the value of people based on genetic factors. Yet, who can determine a baby’s worth? Or rather, how is a baby’s worth determined?
If worth is determined by productivity and health, this is unscientific, and we as a society prove the fallibility of this logic daily. If this was really how our society determined worth, it would not only be subjective but grotesque: Does a quadriplegic woman provide value to society? What of a warrior who returns from Iraq without his legs? Of course, these people are worthy, loved, and valuable, which is why society doesn’t lobby in a widespread bid to euthanize these brave souls.
It’s also unethical for Wolf to decide that he determines the value of life, against the wishes of his constituents. There are many stories that demonstrate that if Wolf was providing a value judgment, he did so poorly: Down syndrome babies often demonstrate unmitigated happiness and a purity of heart that leaves their caretakers, parents, and siblings in awe. Last year, Gerber chose a Down syndrome boy named Lucas to be its poster “Gerber baby,” and the nation fell in love with his sweet smile and contagious spirit of generosity.
People with Down Syndrome often grow up having developed more wit and courage than the average person, due to their disorder. When they do become adults, they are often productive and kind. One woman with Down syndrome runs her own successful cookie business. A 20-year-old man with Down syndrome is the youngest person to own his own company in his town.
Wolf and his fellow progressives aren’t capable of determining the value of human life. Thus, these vulnerable babies with Down need our protection. Wolf’s veto wasn’t a vote protecting women’s rights—it was a vote that removed the protection of a helpless baby with a difficult, but often inspiring, path ahead.
As Victor Hugo wrote in “Les Miserables,” that novel about redemption and the human condition: “It is wrong to become absorbed in the divine law to such a degree as not to perceive human law. Death belongs to God alone, by what right do men touch that unknown thing?”
Nicole Russell is a freelance writer and mother of four. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico, The Daily Beast, and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @russell_nm.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.