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November 20, 2019

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Senate passed legislation today that creates a new crime of performing an abortion if the person is terminating the pregnancy due to a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The bill, House Bill 321, had previously passed the state House of Representatives and now heads to Governor Tom Wolf for his consideration.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is among the opponents of the legislation and urged Governor Wolf to veto the bill in a statement released after the vote.

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“Supporters of this bill have disguised their anti-abortion agenda under the cover of disability rights. If the supporters are so concerned about people with disabilities, we encourage them to create and boost programs that allow people with disabilities to live full and independent lives.”

The following can be attributed to Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, who is a member of the faculty at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia and whose adult son, Lior, has Down syndrome:

“People with Down syndrome are being used as bargaining chips in Harrisburg to restrict a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her reproductive healthcare. This is purely a manipulative play by anti-abortion legislators. If this proposed legislation was truly about protecting the well-being of people with Down syndrome, then it would mandate more funding for genetic education and genetic counseling about the realities of having a child with Down syndrome.”

The following can be attributed to Jennifer Schrad of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County, who is the parent of a child with Down syndrome:

“The government's role in supporting people with disabilities should be to provide an equitable playing field in housing, education, health care, and other services. Unfortunately, children with Down syndrome have become another wedge to advance some legislators' anti-abortion agenda.”

The following can be attributed to Elizabeth Randol, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“This bill is yet another attempt by anti-abortion legislators to undermine women’s access to abortion. And it’s unconstitutional; the government cannot prohibit abortion based on the reason why a person wants to terminate their pregnancy. We hope that Governor Wolf sees through this charade and vetoes this legislation.”

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