By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director
When Governor Tom Wolf proudly vetoed the Down Syndrome Protection Act that was passed by both houses of the PA legislature, he said it was because the bill “interferes with the rights of women to make their own health care decision.”
Having a child with Down Syndrome may present unique challenges, as raising any child can, but it certainly does not jeopardize a woman’s “health”.
Let’s stop the charade. This is not about health care. This is about judging someone’s life as not worth living.
This is about doctors recommending “termination” rather than offering true support for the life that is already growing in the supposed safe haven of her mother’s womb.
This is about exterminating a group of people because they are different and perceived by some to be a burden.
This is not health care. It’s elitism.
This is not health care. It’s eugenics.
It’s deciding who has earned the right to live by their “wantedness.” It’s deciding who meets an arbitrary standard for quality of life, determined by those who already enjoy the privilege of birth.
Wolf also claims that the bill would “politicize difficult moments for vulnerable families.”
In those difficult moments, shouldn’t vulnerable families be offered better options than death? Many parents report feeling pressured after a prenatal diagnosis, with 60-90% aborting a child whose potential they will never know. By emphasizing the perceived challenges the family might face rather than the possibilities, many medical professionals lead couples in an emotional moment to an irreversible decision.
Wolf also characterized the bill as an “attack on abortion.” What about an attack on a helpless human, one who cannot escape or advocate, but who is no less valuable than our Governor?
Ironically, in 2016, Wolf said, “My administration is committed to promoting and encouraging independence, community-based supports and services, and employment for individuals with a disability.” That is, if those individuals are even deemed worthy of life. What good are disability-rights laws to those killed because of a disability?
Yes, people with Down Syndrome will face certain challenges in life, but these challenges can be met by a society that truly embraces diversity. Rather than exterminating those with disabilities, why don’t we exterminate the societal obstacles that prevent them from fully maximizing their potential?
Every person I know with Down Syndrome possesses a simple joyfulness and a beautiful capacity to love unconditionally. How tragic that our Governor’s legacy will be of wanting less of that in our society.