Yet Another Sneaky Law Designed to Discourage Abortion

Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows. No odd couple could be odder than Senator Sam Brownback (‘premarital sex leads to depression and suicide’, ‘porn warps the brain’) and Senator Ted Kennedy (insert your own tasteless joke about the condition of his brain).

And yet they’re cosponsors of the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, which now awaits President Bush’s signature.

The bill requires parents whose fetus is diagnosed with a profound impairment to receive information on the condition and on available support services. It also establishes a registry of families willing to adopt special needs children.

Why is this law necessary? Doesn’t good medical practice provide information patients need? Doesn’t good patient education provide information about local services?

The hypocrisy of this law is stunning.

Some 80-90% of fetuses diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, spina bifida, and cystic fibrosis are aborted. Brownback sees this as a tragedy, cynically decrying how “America is poorer because of this…without [these childrens’] amazing gifts and their wonderful, unconditional love.”

Of course, bearing such a child is certainly a viable option for parents who choose it. But Brownback doesn’t mention the marriages torn apart, the families damaged, the opportunities for education, healthcare, and intimacy lost by parents (and their living children) who choose the option of bearing a severely disabled child. Isn’t America “poorer because of this?”

Eighty to ninety percent—that’s an amazing level of consensus about anything, which no politician or consumer advertiser could possibly create if they tried. Clearly, couples and families of all kinds, in every kind of circumstance, make the (often difficult) decision to abort these pregnancies.

Brownback, Kennedy, and their Congressional colleagues have intervened in the complex realities of these families. The law requires “patient education” that is not required for people seeking plastic surgery or hip replacements—both of which are far, far more dangerous and intrusive than abortion.

If Brownback is so concerned about undermining “the diversity of American life,” he can start by reforming his punitive stance on immigration, his ignorant stance on maternity and paternity leave, and his discriminatory stance on funding health care for the poor.

No, his position is that the health of those not yet born is far more important than the welfare of those already born. Unable (as yet) to criminalize abortion, he is using the sneaky ploy of demonizing specific reasons for abortion, discouraging those who seek it through guilt and intimidation. Attempting to simply criminalize abortion is far more honest and honorable.

Kennedy should put his personal issues aside and support families as they currently exist, rather than attempt to legislate how families should look. He should be ashamed of ending up in bed with Brownback, a consistent enemy of what Kennedy has always stood for—science, justice, privacy, and women’s rights.

The idea that America needs more profoundly disabled children is bizarre and dystopian. The idea that the government should be deciding whose fetus should be given special consideration is not humane—and certainly not “conservative.”

And if you don’t believe in abortion—I support you 100% in not having one. Preserving your choice is what makes America great.


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