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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Testimony: H695 Will Help Support and Protect Babies with Disabilities

My name is Julie Scott Emmons, and I am a longtime Educator and advocate for persons with disabilities.  I believe that every single human life has value, and that individuals with differences make our society whole. 

I’d like to bring your attention to a provision in Section 6 of H695.   It requires that the Department provide resources on the State website that a woman may contact upon receiving information that her child might have a disability or serious abnormality. 

There are two reasons why this provision is necessary.  First of all, this will address an alarming trend in our nation to abort babies with disabilities.  In a society that has a renewed emphasis on tolerance and social justice, almost 90% of babies with Down Syndrome are never allowed to bring their gifts into this world.  90%.  Women whose babies are suspected to have disabilities are often pressured to abort during an extremely painful, vulnerable time.  There are dire predictions of low “quality of life” and a life sentence of “inconvenience”.  There is no mention of the goodness, truth and beauty that a child with disability will bring into their home.  
Secondly, these resources will provide parents with information about a vast network of support that is available to parents of children with special needs. They’ll have information about Down Syndrome Adoption Programs and support communities for families with differences such as Spina Bifida, Cystic fibrosis, various Trisomy Syndromes and more.  Studies show that 80% of parents with poor prenatal diagnosis choose to abort.  When they are presented with comprehensive support, however, 80% choose Life. 

**On February 7, 2013 a beautiful young Kindergarten teacher named Jennifer died in a Maryland hospital.  Jennifer’s daughter, whom she had already named Madison Leigh, had been prenatally diagnosed with a seizure disorder at 31 weeks.  Both Jennifer and Madison died painful deaths during a legal abortion.  I’ve often thought of Jennifer during the last few months, and wondered if positive support and information about her daughter’s condition would have caused her to give birth to this very wanted baby.  Unfortunately, we’ll never know.  However, we can make sure that every mother in North Carolina has access to the resources she needs during a very difficult time. **   

It is heartbreaking to find out that your child might have a severe disability.  I’ve watched close friends walk that road.  Parents who receive this diagnosis deserve support, compassionate care and resources that will lead them to information and communities that will value both them and their differently-abled child.  Our world will be better for it.  

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Julie! I appreciate all your hard work!