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January 28, 2021

Inhofe Leads Senators to Re-Introduce the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) led 21 of his colleagues in re-introducing S. 75, the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act, which would ban a doctor from performing an abortion being sought because the unborn child has Down syndrome. Congressman Ron Estes (KS-04) re-introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.  

Sponsors of the bill include Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). 

As prenatal screenings increase in availability and accessibility, more and more women learn whether or not their baby has Down syndrome prior to the baby’s birth. Sadly, many of these lives are aborted following a diagnosis— over two-thirds of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States, and the population of individuals in Iceland with Down syndrome is being virtually eradicated altogether. The Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act would enact a federal ban on the performance of an abortion with the knowledge that a pregnant woman is seeking an abortion, in whole or in part, on the basis of a belief that her unborn child has Down syndrome. This legislation would not penalize the expectant mother in any way.   

“Today, I am introducing a bill alongside my colleagues to prohibit abortions that are sought because of a Down syndrome diagnosis—something that should already be law,” Inhofe said. “All children should be given the chance at life and our friends in the Down syndrome community are no exception. To take away a child’s life because of his or her chromosome count is unthinkable and I am proud to take a stand today on behalf of those who cannot. As we mark the annual March for Life, we must continue to affirm the sanctity of life.”“It’s tragic that in the United States babies are being targeted simply because they have one more chromosome,” said Estes. “This legislation is about ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities are protected.”  

“Every human being is born with God-given dignity and potential,” Daines said. “The most endangered human is a Down syndrome baby in the womb. We must protect these precious lives at all costs.” 

“Every life is valuable—born or unborn,” said Lankford. “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome should be given the right to life, or if a child survives an attempted abortion, and is living outside his or her mother, that baby deserves to receive care. We should all agree that tax dollars should not fund abortion on demand in the United States or overseas. When science has shown a child can feel pain, they should not be subjected to a dismemberment abortion. And if a healthcare professional has a moral objection to participating in an abortion procedure, which by definition is the taking of life, they should not be forced by their employer to destroy the life they pledged to protect. Protecting life should not be a partisan issue; it should be an American issue. I am proud to speak up for the millions of children who cannot speak for themselves and honor their right to life.” 

“We must acknowledge that every life matters, holds dignity, and is created by God,” Thune said. “It is not up to us as humans to decide whether or not an innocent baby’s life is worth living, and it is a disturbing reality that some believe it is. The fact that an unborn baby may be aborted due to the possibility of a genetic disorder such as Down syndrome is a great tragedy, and it is our job to defend the dignity of human life.” 

“Every child deserves equal protection under the law—regardless of disability,” said Blackburn. “ I’m a proud co-sponsor of this bill because it prevents discrimination by abortion for babies with Down syndrome.  We owe it to the next generation to defend the sanctity of life.” 

“Babies with disabilities deserve our love and protection,” Cotton said. “But sadly, many of these babies don’t even get a chance at life. Protecting unborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome moves us closer to a society that respects life in all forms and all stages.” 

“Being pro-life is just part of who I am and there is no other alternative. As an obstetrician, it’s been a thrill of my life to get to bring thousands of babies into the world and now it’s a thrill of my life to be in the U.S. Senate and continue the fight for pro-life policies,” said Roger Marshall, M.D. “While those on the far left including in the new Administration continue to advocate against human life, I will keep doing what Kansans sent me to Washington to do: continue my lifelong fight for the wellbeing of mothers and their babies and working to end the practice of abortion.”  

“6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born every year,” Cramer said. “Each of them is a human being, endowed by their Creator with the right to life and deserving of an opportunity to make a difference in this world,” said Senator Cramer. “Our legislation gives them that chance.” 

“Babies born with Down syndrome are often sources of joy and inspiration to their families and communities.  It is tragic to think their chance at life could be stolen away simply because of a genetic disorder,” said Hyde-Smith. “This legislation endeavors to defend the most vulnerable in our society and protect these precious lives.” 

“Every life is a precious gift, and unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are no exception,” Boozman said. “Every human being is capable of amazing things that exceed expectations and add much value and joy to the lives and families they are fortunate to be part of. I am honored to stand up and speak out on their behalf and on behalf of those yet to be born so that they can realize their full potential and purpose. Our world would be less bright and loving without them.” 

“Life is precious.” said Lummis. “That is a fact no matter what physical or intellectual challenges a person might have. I’m proud to support my friend and colleague Jim Inhofe on this important issue.”  

“Every single life is a precious gift from God,” Hawley said. “We must protect those that cannot protect themselves and that begins with our unborn children. I welcome this legislation to ensure children with Down syndrome have the right to life.” 

"The law should protect every human life, full stop,” said Sasse. “Down syndrome doesn't make anyone less human. It's time for us to end the unconscionable treatment and discrimination people with disabilities have faced for decades. This legislation isn't partisan. It gives us the opportunity to say human dignity matters. It should pass 100-0." 

“I once again join my colleagues in cosponsoring this important legislation to protect unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome,” Hoeven said. “Every life is a blessing, and it’s critical that individuals with Down syndrome receive the protections, care and respect they so rightly deserve.” 

“Every human life is precious,” said Cruz. “To choose to kill a child simply because he or she has Down syndrome is abhorrent. No one child is more worthy of life than another. Our daughters, sons, and friends with Down syndrome are a gift, and that’s why I am proud to join Senator Inhofe in this bill to ensure the protection of unborn children with Down syndrome.” 

“Every child is a gift and deserves to be celebrated and loved,” Rick Scott said. “I will always fight to protect every life, and I hope all of my colleagues join me in standing up for the right to live.” 

“Every human life is sacred and valuable regardless of any potential disability,” said Braun. “ I’m proud to co-sponsor this legislation that follows what Indiana and other states have done to affirm the dignity of all human life.” 

“The right to life is the most fundamental and sacred of all human rights, and it is unconscionable that some would deny an unborn baby that right because of a Down syndrome diagnosis,” Rubio said. “Every single human being – regardless of their chromosome count – is entitled to the protection of our laws from the very moment of conception. I celebrate the incredible contributions, talents, and joy members of the Down syndrome community bring to the world, and I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to protect and uphold their right to life.” 

Ten states (AR, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, ND, OH, TN, UT) have enacted legislation to prohibit abortion on the basis of Down syndrome. Courts have enjoined the law in several of the states. Several additional states have introduced similar legislation. While the Supreme Court declined to take up Indiana’s Down syndrome abortion ban in 2019, Justice Thomas made it clear that the Supreme Court has not “decide[d] whether the Constitution requires states to allow eugenic abortions.” 

Bill Overview 

  • Makes it illegal for a doctor to knowingly perform an abortion being sought because the baby has or may have Down syndrome, or, if the doctor does not know whether Down syndrome is a contributing factor, requires the doctor to first ask the mother if she is aware of any test results indicating that the child has Down syndrome and to inform her of prohibitions put in place by the law.
  • Prohibits anyone from forcing a woman to have an abortion because the baby has Down syndrome.
  • Imposes a fine and/or imprisonment of up to five years on those who violate the law, and pulls federal funds under existing federal disability anti-discrimination laws from associated abortion clinics.
  • Protects the mother by barring her from being prosecuted or held liable for any violation of the bill and puts in place guardrails to protect her privacy in all court proceedings.To read full text of the bill, click here.

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