Parents are speaking out following the report on the Down syndrome abortion ban bill in the New York Times. Four parents of children with Down syndrome have come forward to oppose Ohio’s House Bill 135. Read their stories and contact Ohio Gov. John Kasich and demand he stop legislation that attacks abortion rights by politicizing the lives of Ohio women and their families.
In reading about HB 135, I was very upset to see that the legislatures in Ohio are using people with DS to chip away at the abortion issue. I have a 3 year old son with DS and we knew early on about our sons condition. We had a choice and we decided to keep our son. This was a very tough decision for my wife and me, but I am glad we had such a choice. This enabled us to truly embrace what was coming our way versus feeling that this was being forced upon us by some unknown legislatures.
Today, I feel rather blessed that my son has DS. He has truly been a blessing to our family. I only hope that I can teach him as much as he has already taught me in just 3 years. We should all spend time with people who have DS, they have a lot to teach the world if we would only take the time to listen.
If our legislatures truly care about the people with DS, then I would love to see them take this opportunity to create a more inclusive community for people with such development issues, not use people like my son to politicize an issue.
Children with DS are sometimes born with severe heart conditions, hearing problems, eye sight concerns and many other medical issues that need financial assistance. My child attends an early childhood development school, which cost over $12,000 per year. Over 50% of the students within my sons school need some type of financial aid. It has now been proven that by working with children with DS from 18 months to 6 years old that they can mainstream into a more traditional learning environment and become productive members of the community.
If you really care about the DS community let’s go beyond just the recently passed ABLE act and truly provide financial aid for early childhood development and supplemental insurance to cover all of the un-usual medical needs that arise with having an extra chromosome. Whatever you do – please stop using my son to politicize your own agenda.
Barry Rosenberg, Texas
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio
Excerpts: This is an issue that hits close to home for me: If I had had a prenatal diagnosis, I would have obtained an abortion. Today, I am beyond grateful that I didn’t. But I cannot ever in any circumstances imagine insisting others not have that right. …
At night, when Johanna’s asleep, I slip into her room and watch her, her blonde hair spilling over her pillow, her hands clutching her Barbies in a death grip. She yawns and curls up in a fetal position, slightly snoring, and I am filled with a surge of love for her that makes me realize that yes, I will do anything to help her thrive and succeed.
I will tell you what won’t help her, though: Legislation forcing women to go through with unwanted pregnancies in the misguided belief that it will advance her life, or the quality of life of other people with Down syndrome.
Excerpts: I’m the father of a boy with Down syndrome. I spend much of my life trying to make the world a better place for him. In doing so, I find common cause with liberals and conservatives from around the country, as we focus on issues like education, employment, and fighting stigma. …
Here’s the most frustrating thing for me: There is so much to complain about regarding our prenatal testing regime, the way we talk about Down syndrome, stigma against all kinds of people with disabilities, the lack of educational and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and more. There’s lots of work to do. The best way to get people to choose to carry a fetus with Down syndrome to term is to make the words “Down syndrome” less scary. That’s hard. It’s not politically useful. So instead, we’ve got bills like HB 131 in Ohio.
David Perry, Illinois
Excerpts: I do not support this kind of legislation –even though our son has Down syndrome. I am pro-choice which means I support whatever reasons a woman chooses for having an abortion.
I do however want more people like my son in the world which bucks the prevalent trend to want fewer people like him.
Am I comfortable with the fact that 60 – 90% of women chose to abort a fetus found to have Down syndrome? No, I’m not. In fact, It angers me. That anger however is not directed at the woman having the abortion. It is at our medical community in its supreme ignorance insisting on relaying antiquated information about Down syndrome to women at what is likely the most vulnerable time in their life.
I place blame as well on our insistence that disability be seen as a profound disadvantage in a society that places an inordinate emphasis on normal. The greatest disability our son faces is what people think of him not his Down syndrome.
Kari Wagner-Peck, Maine
Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.