Yesterday, Governor Steve Beshear signed into law Senate Bill 34, referred to already as “The Down Syndrome Information Bill.” The bill was patterned after a 2012 Massachusetts law. It requires that any health care professional or facility that delivers a Down syndrome diagnosis, prenatally or postnatally, also provide the family with up-to-date, evidence-based, written information and the contact information for national and local support programs and services, specifically listing Down syndrome support organizations in the law. The bill was a true example of bipartisanship.
Senator Julie Denton, a Republican, introduced the bill; Senator Denise Harper-Angel, a Democrat, joined as co-sponsor along with Sen. Mike Wilson, a Republican. The bill passed unanimously through the Republican-controlled Senate. When it went to the House of Representatives, Chairman Tom Burch’s Democrat-controlled House Health & Welfare Committee passed it unanimously, as did the full House of Representatives. And, as the picture shows, Gov. Beshear, also a Democrat, signed it into law.
This is an issue and a solution that all sides can agree upon: when parents receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome, they should also be provided written information that is accurate and contact information for support organizations. It made all the more sense that this law was passed in Kentucky, given that the written resources are maintained through the University of Kentucky’s National Center for Prenatal & Postnatal Down Syndrome Resources.
Fittingly, the bill was signed a week before World Down Syndrome Day. Each year, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is celebrated on March 21st for the numerical representation of the date, 3/21, reflecting the common genetic cause for Down syndrome, a triplicate of the 21st Chromosome. The law will serve the purpose of WDSD in raising awareness and providing accurate information about Down syndrome to expectant and new parents.
Below is the press release from Down Syndrome of Louisville on the bill’s passage into law: