Before June 25, Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina has the opportunity to sign a pro-life bill preventing a physician from aborting a child if the physician is aware that the mother's reason for obtaining the abortion is due to the race or sex of the baby, or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. This prenatal nondiscrimination (or PRENDA) bill passed the state House in May, and the state Senate on June 10, with only six Democrats in total voting for it. Currently, the media is reporting that Cooper, a Democrat, will likely veto the bill. He has until June 25 to do so. Or he can sign the bill or let it become law without his signature.
To be clear, this bill does not outlaw abortions in North Carolina. In fact, it does not even outlaw abortions of people with Down syndrome in North Carolina. It simply outlaws abortions that are obtained because the child has Down syndrome or because the child is a certain race.
On Monday, I had the chance to discuss this legislation on "Washington Watch." As the younger sister of an incredible woman who has a chromosomal abnormality similar to Down syndrome, this bill is near and dear to my heart.
I have been blessed to know and love countless people with Down syndrome, and I am convinced if more people had this opportunity, the lives of people with Down syndrome would not be in danger. Though these people face countless challenges, the joy, zeal, and courage with which they approach life is their most identifiable characteristic. One young man with Down syndrome who has had a particularly profound impact on my life is Ben.
I first met Ben when I was 18 volunteering at my sister's Special Olympics State Games. I helped in the skills division of tennis. Ben was an athlete who had trained all year long and was ready to bring his "A" game. Forehands, backhands, serves, and volleys -- he completed all of them with the biggest smile in the world. Afterward, he ran up to give me a hug and high-five. As he did, I said something along the lines of, "Ben -- awesome job! You're really good." Without missing a beat, he replied with words I will never forget: "I know I'm good. I'm perfect." He was right.
Ben may not have had the ability to play tennis at Wimbledon. He may not have graduated from college. He may not have had what the world deems a "successful life", but Ben is perfect -- or at least pretty close. His ability to love others and make them feel like the most important person in the world is beyond compare. My guess is that the 20 senators and 42 house members in the North Carolina legislature who voted against this legislation never had the opportunity to get to know someone like Ben.
Sadly, 67 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States. Globally, this situation is even more terrifying with countries like Denmark and Iceland reporting abortion rates of over 95 percent for babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Statistics show we are facing a challenging future. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are rising at alarming rates. The birthrate is quickly declining. Marriage rates are at an all-time low. Our world needs to re-learn how to love. Banning the abortion of people who have a super-human capacity to love is a good place to start.
I would like to issue a challenge to Governor Cooper. Before deciding whether to sign this legislation, spend one hour with one of your constituents with Down syndrome. I guarantee you three things. First, you will have made a friend for life. Second, you will come away feeling happier, more loved, and more cared for than you have in a long time. And third, you will make the right decision and sign HB 453 -- Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No Eugenics because you will realize what a gift people with Down syndrome are to this world.