Impact Post: CNN Piece on Down Syndrome Ban in Ohio

I wrote a piece for CNN opposing the Ohio Down Syndrome Abortion Ban. Read it here

It’s been picked up and quoted by some interesting folks. I like to track impact of my writing on other journalists.

I gave this quote to Mic directly:

“But beliefs in abortion rights and disability rights are not mutually exclusive. David Perry, a journalist in Chicago who has a child with Down syndrome, says he can’t stand to see pro-lifers co opt the cause. “As a father of a boy with Down syndrome, I do not want my son being used as a wedge issue in the abortion wars,” he told Mic. “Politicizing births just helps the radical anti-choice fanatics play divide and conquer with the disability rights movement.”

Here’s one from Reason:

David Perry, a freelance writer and father of a son with Down Syndrome, accused Ohio Republicans of using children like his son as “a wedge issue.” A “blanket ban isn’t going to help at all, but even if it’s enforced somehow, it could just lead women to lie about the reasons they aborted, or make Down syndrome code for poverty, when only poor people are forced to give birth after a diagnosis,” writes Perry. He argues that “the best way to get people to choose to carry a fetus with Down syndrome to term is to make the words ‘Down syndrome’ less scary” and “get to work building a more inclusive society.” But, “that’s hard. It’s not politically useful. So instead, we’ve got bills like HB 131 in Ohio.”

Here’s The Daily Beast. Allen followed the links back to my previous writing:

Other parents of children with Down syndrome, like journalist David Perry, think of the proposed ban as a “wedge issue” and a disingenuous attempt on the part of the pro-life movement to “garner sympathy from moderates.”

If you want to help people with Down syndrome, don’t politicize their births,” Perry wrote for CNN. “Instead, get to work building a more inclusive society.”

Advocates like Perry prefer a strictly “pro-information” approach, in which women receive updated and less stigmatizing data about Down syndrome in the event of a prenatal diagnosis. The Ohio legislature unanimously passed a pro-information law in 2014, the seventh such law passed since 2012.

But, as Perry noted in a January RH Reality Check op-ed, pro-information laws have also become politicized by anti-abortion groups. Passed in 2014, Louisiana’spro-information law requires that any information given to women “does not engage in discrimination based on disability or genetic variation by explicitly or implicitly presenting pregnancy termination as a neutral or acceptable option.”

In other words, instead of presenting women with all options and allowing them to choose, the Louisiana law mandates that abortion cannot be discussed at all in the event of a diagnosis unless it is presented as unacceptable.

I love the close of the Daily Beast piece:

As for the Ohio bill, Democrats and other abortion rights supporters are questioning the stated intent behind the bill. Ohio Democrats attempted to attach several amendments to H.B. 135 that would increase special education funding, paid parental leave, and sick leave—amendments that were ruled as not being germane to the bill, and probably appropriately so, legally speaking.
But still, the bluff has been called: Do abortion opponents care about Down syndrome or does the debate merely suit their purposes?

Also, anti-choice Down syndrome groups are mad at me. As a loving father, I undermine their whole narrative. I can live with their anger.

Update: Aggregation failure here. Read the first paragraph.

Update 8/28: Jessica Valenti at The Guardian

But these aren’t policies that help marginalized communities. Instead, they’re part of a larger effort to chip away at abortion rights by making the procedure more difficult to obtain by putting up hurdles like waiting periods and mandating ultrasounds. They are also perverting causes around the very real issues of racism, sexism and ableism.

David Perry, a freelance journalist whose son has Down syndrome, wrote in CNNthat bills like the one in Ohio run counter to the work that disability rights advocates have been doing.

“Around the country, we’ve been making real progress in attacking the misconceptions built within the prenatal testing regime. When people receive a prenatal diagnosis, they are often told things that aren’t true, and this misinformation can naturally shape their choice of whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

Perry says instead of trying to force women to carry pregnancies, we need to focus on a “pro-information” movement that ensures women who undergo genetic testing while pregnant have access to all of the facts they need to make their own decision. But to the anti-choice movement, women aren’t capable of making decisions – they need the government to do that for them – and available information should be limited or just plain false.

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