Speaker Applauds Senate Passage of Down Syndrome Protection Act, House Bill 321, Urges Governor to Sign Bill
HARRISBURG – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) thanked Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and 26 other senators for passing House Bill 321, legislation that protects the lives of unborn children who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The House passed House Bill 321 in a bipartisan vote of 117-76 on May 14. Speaker Turzai called on Gov. Tom Wolf to please sign the bill.

House Bill 321, sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York) and Speaker Turzai, provides that an abortion provider cannot perform an abortion solely because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. Down syndrome is a congenital, chromosome disorder that occurs in approximately one of 830 live births. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. House Bill 321 will not impact those instances in cases of rape, incest or personal endangerment.

In talking about the importance of this legislation, Turzai reflected on statements made by Dr. Karen Gaffney at a press conference last year. “Those of us with Down syndrome and our families face a very difficult future,” Gaffney said. Dr. Gaffney, who has an honorary Ph.D., also said, “We face a possibility of wiping out all of the tremendous progress we have made. Just as we are making so much progress, a whole industry has grown up focused on prenatal screening – screening that would end our lives before we take our first breath. Now that you can test for Down syndrome before birth, there are many experts in the medical community that say this extra chromosome we carry around is not compatible with life. Not compatible with life. After everything we have done, I would say we are more than compatible. We are what life is all about. Our lives are worth living and our lives are worth learning about.”

Turzai lauded Klunk’s “tireless advocacy” of the bill, calling her a “true champion” for those with Down syndrome. Not only has Klunk advocated for record levels of investment to support persons with intellectual disabilities, including those with Down Syndrome, she has been a leading voice for protecting those children diagnosed with that syndrome.

“Every life has dignity; every life counts,” Speaker Turzai said. “Pennsylvania can now join six other states in passing laws to protect these most vulnerable lives. We do not want to follow the example of Iceland, where nearly every child diagnosed with Down syndrome is aborted before their first breath.”

Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Christine Goldbeck
717.787.7977 (office) 570.205.0736 (cell)
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