Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Rare Partnership

In September, Sen. Ted Kennedy (R) and Sen. Sam Brownback (D) came together to sponsor a bill to assist women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of disability with information and resources in their decision. The bill was passed unanimously in late September after languishing for two years, helped in part by the candidacy of Sarah Palin, mother of a Downs Syndrome baby. Sen. Kennedy, although pro-choice, has been a long-time advocate of people with disabilities. Sam Brownback, pro-life, found a way to help women have and care for their afflicted children. A data registry will be established to point to disability resources and adoption options.

The bill was the result of a study by one Harvard Medical Student Brian Skotko who showed that doctors negatively influenced the mothers' decisions:
In two papers published in 2005, he showed that most doctors gave a very negative impression when informing parents that their child might have a disability. Studies show that about 90% of women pregnant with a Down syndrome child choose to abort it.

"The majority of the parents said that the information they got from their physicians was inaccurate, incomplete and sometimes insensitive," Skotko said. "It was in no way consistent with the advancements and possibilities and support that we've seen." (Bioedge)
I heard Sam Brownback speak on NPR the day after the presidential election, and he denied any discouragement, but instead saw opportunity ahead. This bill is a fine example of creative cooperation in the interest of children and their families.

(See also my Brownback Runs for President.)

2 comments:

Dcn Scott Dodge said...

Thanks, Sharon, for posting this story of hope today.

Sharon Mollerus said...

It is a cool story. I wonder if, whatever the deficits of Palin's candidacy, the very public witness she and her husband have given in loving their disabled baby might not save the lives of some other children.