Pro-life should not hijack pro-information

indiana-right-to-life-logoBy hijacking a law that has bipartisan support for their own agenda, pro-life efforts may actually lead to more abortions of babies with Down syndrome. 

Indiana Right to Life is behind a bastardized version of the Down Syndrome Information Act (DSIA) introduced in this year’s legislative session. I use these harsh terms because not only are these pro-life efforts frustrating the work to be done by the DSIA, their efforts are frustrating their own goals, too.

Denying women accurate information about Down syndrome

Instead of tracking the versions of the law passed in Massachusetts, Delaware, and Kentucky, Indiana’s tracks the language of Louisiana’s version. Unlike in the other states, where the DSIA was introduced through the work of local Down syndrome support organizations, Louisiana’s and now Indiana’s is the work of local pro-life organizations. Seeing a bill with wide bipartisan support passing easily in other states, they have now altered it for their own purposes.

Louisiana, and now Indiana, adds a final paragraph which prohibits that the information provided to moms to include a reference to abortion as an option. This is the definition of “bastardized”: corrupting something by adding something new.

It corrupts because the point of the DSIA is to provide women the information they’re supposed to receive, but currently do not: a balanced portrayal of a life with Down syndrome and information on the support available to them and their child. By adding the final paragraph, the Act actually ensures that they won’t get the rest of the information because medical professionals have reviewed a pamphlet that doesn’t mention abortion and said they. won’t. give. it. out.

So, a law that’s supposed to ensure women get the information they need, that they’re supposed to receive, actually ensures they won’t.

Killing babies with Down syndrome

Now one would think that being pro-life advocates, their goals would be to minimize the number of abortions. But by corrupting the DSIA, they are actually ensuring that more women will terminate their pregnancies than if the DSIA was enacted unadulterated.

Women currently are receiving no information or, worse, inaccurate information about what their test result for Down syndrome will mean for them and their families. Moreover, obstetricians admit that a majority of them do not provide educational materials to their patients about their test results. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in 2.5 women having a negative experience receiving a prenatal test result for every one women who has a positive experience.

So, women are going to be told the child they are carrying has Down syndrome. And, their doctor will tell them that they can abort their pregnancy–indeed, by professional guidelines, they have to. But, they won’t be given any other information, because if the law is passed as written, medical professionals have already said they won’t give out information that doesn’t present abortion as an option.

They won’t because there is no consequence for not giving out the information. Read the bill. No penalty for non-compliance. And, between risking going against all of their medical training which tells them that one of the reasons for prenatal testing is so that women can abort, versus not giving out information that runs counter to their own professional guidelines and has no penalty for not giving the information out, which decision do you think doctors are going to make?

The current status quo will continue: women will receive no or inaccurate information; they will be counseled about terminating their pregnancies; and more will decide to terminate than if they had gotten the rest of the information they’re supposed to also receive which moms have called a “lifeline.”

Get your own bill; leave the DSIA alone.

Pro-life groups should leave the DSIA alone and let it pass as it is supposed to be written. Their efforts to corrupt it will only undermine their own goals of minimizing abortions. And, what’s more, they already have their own law for their own purposes.

Another bill was also introduced in Indiana to ban selective abortion for Down syndrome. This bill also is the work of Indiana Right to Life. Some may say if that bill becomes law then the DSIA has to then prohibit any mention of abortion. This is not true.

Nothing about either bill prohibits a medical professional from advising their patient about abortion. In fact, neither bill changes the availability of abortion in Indiana. With it being available, then per professional guidelines, doctors have to counsel their patients on termination.

Here’s how the conversation will go if both bills become law in Indiana:

Your test result came back positive for Down syndrome. Now, I’m supposed to give this information to you, but it’s inherently biased as pro-life. Also, in Indiana, you are not supposed to be able to obtain an abortion because your child has Down syndrome. So, if you choose to terminate, you can simply not tell the doctor why you are aborting or just drive two hours to the nearest abortion clinic across the state line.

After all, Indiana’s motto is “the crossroads of America.” No matter where you’re at in Indiana, you’re no more than a few hours from a border town like Louisville, Chicago, or Dayton where an Indiana mother can get an abortion. And, she’ll be choosing to make that drive without having been told the balancing information or referral to her local support group because of Indiana’s bastardized DSIA.

Trojan Horse

One last point about how bad the Indiana (and Louisiana) DSIA is: it taints all other DSIA efforts in other states.

It does so because the medical community does not differentiate between a law passed in Louisiana or Indiana from one passed in Kentucky or Massachusetts. All they know is that laws are being passed that require them to provide information.

The medical community is already suspicious of efforts by Down syndrome advocates as being Trojan Horses for pro-life information. And, when laws like Louisiana’s and Indiana’s actually are Trojan Horse efforts, then the rest of the laws–the laws written the way they’re supposed to be written consistent with medical guidelines–suffer guilt by association, rendering those efforts and the information they provide suspect in the eyes of the medical community.

So, again,pro-life groups: get your own laws. Leave the DSIA alone.


  1. Very frustrating! The goal of “Pro-information” is to ensure that women have in their hands accurate and up-to-date information about what a Ds diagnosis means after they receive a diagnosis. All pregnancy options SHOULD be included to make an informed decision. Isn’t that what an informed decision is all about? Who makes a major life decision and chooses not to think through all the factors of that decision? People make decisions based on what is best for them based on their beliefs. Bottom line, we all don’t think alike. Can we please leave this argument out of it and focus on the true purpose of the DSIA, where “Down syndrome Information” are the key words?

    • As I’ve said in other discussions, Kim: those with an issue about the Lettercase booklet, the GOLD standard of information, because it has a page that addresses termination–in terms that a pro-life reviewer said was about the most neutral representation possible–are willing to throw out the 20-some odd other pages of information that the mother too often will not be told about–info like inclusive education, life expectancy, and the option of adoption–because of that one page that they will most assuredly be told about. It is the real-life position of cutting off your nose to spite your face.


  1. […] together, thanks to American anti-choice efforts. Around the country, the GOP is proposing and passing laws banning abortion if a woman tells her doctor she’s doing it because of a prenatal diagnosis. We […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: