HB205: Down Syndrome Anti-Discrimination Abortion Act

  • Pro-Life Utah
  • 01/22/2018

HB205:  Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act

Official Bill:    https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0205.html

Bill Outline:  This bill bans abortions based on a possible pre-diagnosis or diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  

UPDATE (3/9/18):

We are heartbroken to announce that HB205, the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act, did not pass this legislative session. This means that babies prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome can continue to be aborted in Utah simply because they are "undesirable" by some. This is a huge loss for our state and our society! The Utah Senate chose to let people die when they chose to hold HB205 hostage and not let it come to a vote on the Senate floor.

The 2018 Legislative session ended at 12:00 am on March 9th as did the life of HB205. After weeks of debate and support, it passed the House Judiciary Committee (8-3), the House floor (54-17), then the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee (3-2) and then got stuck in the political muck in the Utah Senate. Though this bill did not become law, it was great that the Utah legislature took it as far as it did and brought such light to this crisis in our own backyard.

HB205 was a beautiful bill designed to protect a threatened people group- those with Down Syndrome- from being exterminated before their birth. The Down Syndrome Discrimination Ban would have prohibited an abortion from being performed based solely on a pre-diagnosis or diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Presently, Down Syndrome is the main target of the “compassionate eugenics” movement, but it If we do not stand up against this thinking, it will be just the beginning. After Down Syndrome, what group will come next? Utah needs to draw a defining line in the sand and declare loudly to the world, “We will not go there!”

Karianne Lisonbee was the bill sponsor of HB205 and she boldly and courageously defended the need for this kind of non-discrimination legislation every step of the way! She was willing to take the heat from pro-choice activists and yet she never got flustered. She is an amazing example of sticking to your principles and defending them amidst adversity! She helped shed light on the importance of ending eugenics in our state. We cannot thank her enough for her role in HB205!

So many people sacrificed their time, talents and efforts to get HB205 this far. We thank them for their words, prayers, emails, phone calls, texts and all other efforts behind the scenes and in the forefront! Your love, passion, and determination were not in vain! Much good has come and will come from what you've done. You fought for those how cannot protect themselves. You are true heroes!

We have great hopes that while HB205 did not pass this year, this is not the end of Down Syndrome anti-discrimination legislation in Utah! As the eugenics movement becomes more widely exposed in the US and throughout the world, we look forward to seeing how this kind of protective legislation plays out in other states and on a national level. We anticipate the day when all unborn children are legally protected in Utah, the United States and the world. We will take all steps possible to bring that day forth.

UPDATE (3/8/18):

The Deseret News published an interview with Rep. Karianne Lisonbee explaining what is currently happening with the bill in the Senate. Please contact senators and put pressure on them to have this bill heard and voted on!


Committee likely to prevent Senate hearing on bill barring Down syndrome abortions, sponsor says

Legislative records show the bill was moved off the reading calendar and back into the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.
"It's very, very frustrating. It's heartbreaking, knowing what this bill would do if it passed," Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, told the Deseret News.
Speaking of the Senate Rules Committee, Lisonbee said "I think... they're trying to bury it in their process."
"I do not understand why anyone would want to hide it (and) bury it," she said in an interview. "That's apparently what the Senate wants at this point. It's very sad."

UPDATE (3/7/18):

HB205 will be substituted on the Senate Floor. Please encourage senators to SUPPORT Substitute 3. Please emphasize that they should not support any other substitutes made to the bill. 

Full Senate Roster: http://senate.utah.gov/senators/full-roster.html

Link to Substitute 3: https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/hbillint/HB0205S03.pdf

The legislative session ends at midnight tomorrow (March 8th). Any bills that have not been voted on will be filed as not passed. Time is short, but we have hope that HB205 will be heard before time runs out! 

To watch where the bill is at, click the + symbol next to "2nd Reading" and "3rd Reading" on the Senate side. You can watch live debate by clicking the + symbol next to "Video" on the Senate side. https://le.utah.gov/FloorCalendars/

We will need prayers to get this through! Thank you again for the efforts you have made so far! It has truly helped.

UPDATE (2/28/18):

We are in the final days of the Legislative Session! HB205 will need all of our help to get it passed the finish line! The vote on the Senate Floor will be the most difficult vote it has gone through. They are being bombarded by opposition, so we must help them understand that pro-lifers throughout the state support this--and we are the majority of their constituents! 

    After you have contacted your State Senator, please contact Senate Leadership, and then contact as many senators as you can (see list below)! Let them know how important it is and urge them to support it in its entirety!

    Points concerning the constitutional note;

    • Almost all abortion bills will have a constitutional note due to Utah statute.
    • In 2015, Senator Bramble's Pain Capable bill was thought to surely have a constitutional challenge and it did not. There is no way to know for sure. 
    • Defending life is a constitutional challenge worth fighting. 

    Find your State Senator here: https://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp 


    • When e-mailing, put the bill number in the subject line (example: Please SUPPORT H.B.205)
    • Make sure to tell your legislator that you are a CONSTITUENT (write it in the subject line of every e-mail). 
    • Keep e-mails brief, to the point. Use your own words.
    • Text only very brief messages and keep those communications timely. 
    • Most importantly, always, ALWAYS, be respectful.

    List of Senators to contact (beginning with Senate Leadership at the top):

    Niederhauser, Wayne L. 
    Senate President
    District 9, Salt Lake

    Okerlund, Ralph 
    Senate Majority Leader
    District 24, Beaver, Garfield, Juab, Kane, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier, District 24, Utah, Wayne

    Adams, J. Stuart 
    Senate Majority Whip
    District 22, Davis

    Knudson, Peter C. 
    Senate Assistant Majority Whip
    District 17, Box Elder, Cache, Tooele

    Stevenson, Jerry W. 
    Senate Executive Appropriations Chair
    District 21, Davis

    Henderson, Deidre M. 
    Senate Rules Chair
    District 7, Utah
    Harper, Wayne A. 
    District 6, Salt Lake
    Zehnder, Brian 
    District 8, Salt Lake
    Fillmore, Lincoln 
    District 10, Salt Lake
    Stephenson, Howard A. 
    District 11, Salt Lake, Utah
    Thatcher, Daniel W. 
    District 12, Salt Lake, Tooele
    Anderegg, Jacob L. 
    District, 13, Salt Lake, Utah
    Hemmert, Daniel 
    District 14, Utah
    Dayton, Margaret 
    District 15, Utah
    Bramble, Curtis S. (Thank him for being the co-sponsor of HB205!)
    District 16, Utah, Wasatch
    Millner, Ann 
    District 18, Davis, Morgan, Weber
    Christensen, Allen M. 
    District 19, Morgan, Summit, Weber
    Buxton, David G. 
    District 20, Davis, Weber
    Weiler, Todd 
    District 23, Davis, Salt Lake
    Hillyard, Lyle W. 
    District 25, Cache, Rich
    Van Tassell, Kevin T. 
    District 26, Daggett, Duchesne, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch
    Hinkins, David P. 
    District 27, Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Utah, Wasatch
    Vickers, Evan J. 
    District 28, Beaver, Iron, Washington
    Ipson, Don L. 
    District 29, Washington

    UPDATE (2/16/18):

    Governor Herbert recently said in the press that he thinks changes need to be made to HB205. If any changes are made, it could render the bill meaningless. The governor has the power to veto a bill if it is passed. Please contact Governor Herbert ASAP and urge him to support HB205 as it is currently written. We must stand for Down Syndrome babies because they cannot speak for themselves. If this bill is challenged in court, we can face that challenge if it comes. Some things are worth fighting for!

    Please CALL (most effective): 800-705-2464 (ask to be transferred to the constituent line where you can leave a message with your full opinion)

    And WRITE: https://www.utah.gov/governor/contact/

    To listen to the House and Senate Committee Hearing (on Jan 25th), click the Hearing/Debate tab at this link and click "Audio" underneath Committee Report: https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0205.html

    To watch the debate on the House Floor (on Feb 5th), click this link: http://utahlegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=22374&meta_id=800424

    Why This Bill?  A Down Syndrome diagnosis shouldn’t be a death sentence.  Selective abortion, for any reason, is the very definition of eugenics. History warns us that this is a very dangerous road to take. Recent news out of Iceland and Denmark regarding the eradication of Down Syndrome, or rather the eradication of people with Down Syndrome via abortion should give all of us nightmares. Early prenatal testing via a maternal blood draw has opened up the way to let us prepare for these babies, or eradicate an entire subset of our population.  Presently, Down Syndrome is the main target of this “compassionate eugenics” movement, but it If we do not stand up against this thinking, it will be just the beginning.  After Down Syndrome, what group will come next?   Utah needs to draw a defining line in the sand and declare loudly to the world, “We will not go there!”

    Real Experiences:  There are countless stories by parents who faced pressure to abort their children after a possible Down Syndrome diagnosis was made. Here are some excerpts from a particularly chilling account written by Robin Mueller:

    Unborn children with Down Syndrome are robbed of their humanity. I learned this first hand when I received a call informing me my unborn child likely had Down Syndrome.

    I was sent to a high-risk obstetrician seemingly immediately. The first thing I said to this doctor was that I would never abort my child, and I didn’t want her to even suggest this. She either found this to be a challenge she wanted to win or she just didn’t care about what I said.

    The doctor had nothing positive to say about my child. In strong-armed fashion, she told me if I really loved my child I would have an abortion, because it was a caring decision that put the child first. She actually said, “You would be doing your baby a favor to have an abortion.”

    I was also hammered with incorrect facts about children with Down Syndrome. The one that sticks out in my mind years later is that most children with Down Syndrome don’t live to see their first birthday. This is a complete lie, as the life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome is 60 years.

    I was informed that I really didn’t have time to waste, since I was in my second trimester. The obstetrician said I should get an abortion as soon as possible before more people realized I was pregnant. I agreed to only one thing at that appointment. I had the blood test repeated so I could prepare by interviewing pediatricians who could properly care for my child.

    My second triple-check test showed that my child didn’t have Down Syndrome, but rather that my due date was incorrect. When I returned to the specialist for a follow-up visit, I noticed she used the word “baby” repeatedly. During the prior visit, my child had been a mere fetus to her because she didn’t see the humanity of the child on the ultrasound screen.



    Q:  Are you sure people with Down Syndrome are being targeted?

    A:  Yes.  In 2017, A member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee defended the use of abortion to eradicate babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities as a “preventive measure” to “avoid the handicap.” The practice of aborting children based on a Down syndrome diagnosis has been applauded by news stations such as CBS and hailed as a victory in European countries like Denmark where 98 percent of babies with a positive diagnosis are aborted and in Iceland where 100 percent are aborted. In 2016, a French court banned a pro-life commercial featuring smiling children with Down syndrome on the basis that it could "disturb the conscience" of women who had aborted their unborn children.  Richard Dawkins infamously responded to a woman querying a possible Down's syndrome pregnancy: 'Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.'  Under current trends, people with Down Syndrome will be completely extinct in certain countries once those already born have died.  

    France documented a 96% abortion rate for those diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome. In the UK, the abortion rate for unborn Down syndrome children is reported as high as 92% to 100%.  The U.S. data includes a 2012 study that found a weighted mean from 61% up to 93% of those diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome were aborted.  A new report, using rigorous statistical modeling of the sparse U.S. data from 2006-2010, finds that abortion after prenatal diagnosis has reduced the population of individuals living with Down syndrome in the U.S. by approximately 30%.

    Q:  Why doesn’t the bill include other disabilities?

    A:  Currently, testing availability has been the main instigator that has opened up a way for this type of thinking to progress.  Right now, babies with Down Syndrome are the main target.  We are starting here, and will be progressing in the future.  Abortion law is stifled by two major cases.  Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey.  Those cases make it illegal to ban any abortions pre-viability.  We believe that this law does not fall under those rulings, but it may be decided in court.  If we can stop the discriminatory abortions of babies with Down Syndrome, it will open the door for the protection of babies with other disabilities.

    Q:  Why is it ok to abort a healthy baby, but not a baby with Down Syndrome?

    A:  That is a great question, and one that we ask ourselves a lot in the fight for life.  As we look to reverse the damage of Roe v Wade, we have to take every step in the right direction as a win.  For example, across the country, states have been passing 20 week pain capable laws.  This stops abortions after 20 weeks gestation (22 weeks LMP).  However, why is the life of a 20 week baby more important than one who is 19 weeks?  It isn’t.  However, with Roe v Wade the current law, it is a step in the right direction, that so far, in many states, has not been stopped by the courts.  If we could protect all babies, we would.  We are always working towards that goal.

    Q:  Will this bill really stop a woman from aborting her baby with a Down Syndrome Diagnosis?

    A:  We understand that this won’t fully protect unborn Utah children with a possible diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  We know this law may not prevent women from receiving an abortion based on a different grievance.  Currently, in Utah, women can receive an abortion for any reason up to 22 weeks.  Undoubtedly, there will be women who still abort their babies who have a possible diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  So, while it won’t make things perfect, it will make things better.  There are Utah women that have been pressured to abort their babies with Down Syndrome.  This law will prevent doctors from performing abortions based solely on a Down Syndrome Diagnosis. Hopefully it will help individuals within our state understand that it is not acceptable to pressure women to abort their babies because they received a Down Syndrome Diagnosis. No woman should ever feel pressured into an abortion.  

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