May. 06, 2019

HARRISBURG – Noting the significance of every human life, Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) applauded the House Health Committee vote to advance legislation to protect the lives of unborn children who might have Down syndrome. 

House Bill 321, sponsored by Rep. Kate Klunk (R-York), amends the Abortion Control Act to include a prohibition on abortion after a prenatal diagnosis of, or a belief that the unborn child has Down syndrome. The bill would not impact provisions of the law that place no restrictions on a mother obtaining an abortion in cases of rape, incest or personal endangerment.

In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for inherited traits. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

Medical advancements have paved the way for long, healthy and productive lives for those living with the condition. The same advancements also led to the development of prenatal testing, which is not always 100 percent accurate. 

In a Capitol press conference last year, Karen Gaffney, who holds an honorary Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) and who swam the English Channel, reflected on this. “Those of us with Down syndrome and our families face a very difficult future. 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.”

Turzai, who offered the bill (House Bill 2050) last session, when it passed by a veto-proof vote of 139-56, said the following: “Each and every individual, from the womb until our last breath on earth, has dignity and worth. We provide state and federal funding to help individuals with disabilities because their lives matter. No abortion provider should abort an unborn child because she or he has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Each and every one of the 6,000 children born with Down syndrome in the United States each year is a beautiful, wonderful person with a meaningful life ahead.”

Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House 
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives / /