Head of ACLU Disability Rights Project Voices Opposition to Down Syndrome Abortion Bans


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The head of the ACLU Disability Rights Project, Susan Mizner, recently published an op-ed opposing Down syndrome abortion bans alongside Alexa Kolbi Molinas, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Mizner and Kolbi Molinas were critical of how states have begun to pass laws that do not allow for the termination of a pregnancy due to a Down syndrome diagnosis, claiming the bans do not improve the lives of those with disabilities. Writing in The Hill, the ACLU workers stated:

It does not expand access to necessary services and opportunities or protect any person with disabilities from discrimination in education, housing, employment, medical care, or any other area of life. It does not make it easier for people with disabilities to have — and keep — their children. And it does not protect people with disabilities from violence and abuse, such as coerced sexual and reproductive health decisions, sterilization abuse, and police violence.

Critics of this stance have noted that while Down syndrome abortion bans, such as HB 214 in Ohio, do not immediately resolve every potential ill disabled children face, these laws make it possible for them to live. Within her article for Live Action, Cassy Fiano-Chesser acknowledges the need for disabled children to have access to helpful resources, but she emphasized how “without life, none of those other protections can be offered.”

Alarmingly, a CBS News report found an almost 100 percent abortion rate in Iceland for pre-born babies with Down syndrome. The United States does not fare much better, as some studies have suggested that two out of three unborn children diagnosed with it in utero are aborted.

Despite the challenges of a disability, surveys have found high rates of happiness and satisfaction for those with Down syndrome. While Mizner raised concerns about the stability of the family if they have a child with Down syndrome, studies have found these individuals often have a positive effect on the mood of their friends and family members.

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