For the life of a very special child

by Paul Mero

State Representative Karianne Lisonbee and State Senator Curt Bramble have co-sponsored a bill protecting a baby from being aborted solely because it has or has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome (HB 205) – and it sounds altogether reasonable to me. Why should Down Syndrome be a death sentence? Or, if focusing solely on the feelings and rights of the mother, why does a personal preference outweigh the inherent dignity of a Down Syndrome child?

For the bill’s pro-abortion opponents, the biggest excuse in opposing the bill is the law. Since 1973, the law has stated that a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion outweighs any other factor involved in the abortion, even the baby whose life is to be terminated. So, on its face, current federal abortion laws are the excuse as to why House Bill 205 should be opposed. To subordinate a woman’s right to choose an abortion to any perceived rights involving the baby to be aborted is unconstitutional. What is there to misunderstand about a woman’s legal right to an abortion?

House Bill 205 also comes with a pretty formidable warning about its constitutionality. The state Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel believes it has a “high probability of being declared unconstitutional by a court.” The office cites Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and a recent state court decision in Indiana – all of which is to warn legislators that passing this bill is certain to unleash a lawsuit. The inference for supportive legislators is despair. Why pass a bill that is sure to get challenged in court at great expense to taxpayers?

Supporters of the bill looking to protect Down Syndrome babies from being aborted point to similar laws in other states that are not being challenged in the courts. They also will point out that outside of America, where public health statistics are kept on such matters, more babies are aborted solely because they are Down Syndrome than not.

Those numbers are not 90 percent, as some supporters of this bill might tell us, but they are well over 50 percent. The impact of abortion on the population of Down Syndrome babies is to reduce that population by 30 percent. Now, to get real for a moment, imagine a policy that would significantly reduce a specific population, such as a race or a religion, by 30 percent. Of course, we do not have to imagine what that looks like. America fought and won that war against that sort of eugenics sixty years ago.

And this point is how House Bill 205 unnerves pro-abortion progressives. They do not want public health authorities to maintain specific records about pre-natal specifics, such as Down Syndrome, because these records put a face on a fetus and an actual face would hurt the cause of abortion. Stirred out of compassion for the face of Down Syndrome, supporters of the bill want to protect them. Opponents of this protection need to see faceless fetuses – such facelessness is how they can sleep at night. Jane Doe aborting Baby Doe is much easier to live with than Jane Smith aborting her precious baby boy.

As it turns out, the legal argument is the least compelling excuse. For instance, would supporters of abortion have used this very same legal argument prior to 1973? No, of course not. Proponents of abortion back then said to hell with current law. And the legal argument is doubly unpersuasive in Utah. We have a track record of defying bad laws upheld by the Constitution. The best example is Utah’s immigration law passed in 2011. It was clearly unconstitutional and, for some of us, that bill was intended to trigger a lawsuit. If you think back, the State of Utah was built upon either being subjected to or righting several constitutional wrongs.

In the end, if you are still deciding which side you are on, think of this: If you could save the life of a Down Syndrome child, would you? Ignore the legal excuse of “viability.” If we can detect Down Syndrome in a fetus, that fetus is already a Down Syndrome child. Do you save its life or do you let it die needlessly? You know where I stand.

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