Disability controversy surrounds abortion bill

This graphic is in the shape of Texas with the red white and blue lone star state flag inside the outline of the state.

The Texas Legislature has passed a bill that is seen by disability groups as targeting fetuses with disabilities.

The measure requires women to have a sonogram performed before receiving an abortion, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News. The bill contains exceptions for cases of rape and incest, as is standard with most abortion legislation.

However, the bill also contains an exception for fetuses with an “irreversible medical condition or abnormality.” The language is seen as broad enough to include many common types of disabilities.

“That means a disability. It doesn’t have to be a severe disability,” said Suzanne Shepherd with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas, in an article  in the Austin Statesman. “In the name of protecting unborn life, it stigmatizes and degrades people with disabilities.”

Disability groups are advocating for the language in the exception to be changed to a “terminal condition,” to protect the life of the mother.

People with Down syndrome are particularly concerned about the bill because of widespread fear about the disability. The percentage of pregnant women receiving a Down syndrome diagnose that opt to receive an abortion has been estimated to be as high as 90 percent.

“In the name of protecting the unborn, this law is actually a new form of eugenics” said Suzanne Shepherd, DSACT Past President, and mother of a 13 year boy with Down syndrome, in a news release. “What a sad day for Texas children with disabilities to be officially designated as less worthy of life than other children.”

The bill, passed by the Texas House of Representatives 94-41 May 5, is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Rick.

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