Lawmakers want to ban abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. The proposed bill is getting a lot of attention, especially with Thursday, March 21 being World Down Syndrome Day.
Over 15 years ago, Jennifer McWorter was pregnant with her first child, Annalynn. The newborn was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Jennifer had no idea because she had refused a genetic test during pregnancy.
“That’s actually one of the screening tests that we recommend for any patient that comes in pregnant whether they’re 16 or 43,” said Dr. Adam McCall, family practice physician at Northwest Medical Plaza- Eastside in Springdale.
On Wednesday, March 20, the Arkansas Senate passed a bill banning doctors from performing an abortion solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis. The bill is now headed to the House and if passed, it will become the second state to have a similar law, after North Dakota.
“I think that’s very important in that we don’t just make a decision based upon a test and what we perceive to be a quality of life issue,” Dr. McCall said.
“Individuals with disabilities are capable of doing nearly everything that those of us who do not have a disability are capable of,” said John Newman, executive director of Lifestyles which is a facility that teaches people with disabilities how to lead independent lives. Newman believes big changes need to be made if the bill passes.
“If the number of individuals with disabilities increases, then we should be prepared to increase our support of those families and individuals themselves,” Newman said.
McWorter said if she would have known her child had Down syndrome, she may have considered ending her pregnancy. But today, she has a normal, sassy 15-year-old.
“Our daughter has dreams to go work in a hair salon and to be a yoga instructor,” McWorter said.
She encourages any mother who finds herself in the same situation to be patient, educate themselves and know there are good times ahead.