HEA 1337 Is a Good Thing: A Physician’s Point of View.
I would like to applaud Gov. Pence for signing HEA 1337 into law. This legislation is valuable, and it is fundamentally consistent with our American principles in that it protects the civil rights of all of our citizens by specifically outlawing discrimination based on race, gender, or disability.
I am proud that Indiana will no longer allow a baby to be aborted because he is black. I am proud that Indiana will no longer allow a baby to be aborted because she is female. I am proud that Indiana will no longer allow a baby to be aborted because she is imperfect. While some may suggest that discrimination in the abortion industry does not exist, the evidence would suggest otherwise.
They say the abortion industry does not target race, but we know that is not true. CDC data continues to document the epidemic of abortions among black Americans. Data shows, that despite the fact that the black population makes up only 13.6 percent of the general population, black abortions account for 37.6 percent of all abortions performed in America (Census 2010, CDC 2012). The vast majority of abortion clinics are located in low income and minority neighborhoods. Despite this clear disparity, there is a relative paucity of outrage in the black community. It is useful to consider these statistics in light of the ire drawn from recent high-profile cases of violence against members in the black community who have already been born. While there were 6,454 black murder victims in 2012, there were 148,971 black victims of abortion (FBI 2012, CDC 2012). By far and away, the most dangerous place in this country for a black American to be is in the womb. By Gov. Pence signing this bill into law, and it passing with an overwhelming majority in the Indiana General Assembly, Indiana states without a doubt that black lives matter.
They say the abortion industry does not target gender, but we know that is not true. This new law will protect women from sex-selective abortions which are exceedingly common in many parts of the world, especially in East and South Asian countries. In these countries, most notably China and India, many prefer males to females and thus abort female babies. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicts that by 2020, China will have an excess of 30,000,000-40,000,000 boys under the age of 20 compared to their female counterparts. By passing this law and ensuring that this practice does not find a foothold in Indiana, Hoosiers stand for the dignity of all women, including the pre-born.
They say the abortion industry does not target the disabled, but we know that is not true. Research shows across several studies that the vast majority of Down syndrome babies are aborted, with estimates reaching up to 90 percent. With this law Indiana becomes only the second state to ban abortions targeting babies with physical disabilities. I am especially proud of this protection because I am a physician. As a family physician I have the opportunity to work with, not only expectant mothers and fathers, but with the babies before and after birth. It has been my honor to care for many patients with special needs whose peers would have been protected by this law. These individuals are valuable members of our society by nature of their humanity. They are due the dignity and respect owed to every human life. Many opponents of civil rights protection for the disabled adopt a purely utilitarian opinion, stating that these lives are “not worth living,” and that they have no “quality of life.” However, as indicated by a 2011 study, 99 percent of those with Down syndrome rated their lives as happy, and 97 percent were happy with their appearance (Amer Jour Med Gen, Oct 2011). This satisfaction with life and self is likely much higher than their able-bodied counterparts.
This law is of particular importance to me as I am the father of a child with cerebral palsy. This is a condition where my son suffered a stroke in utero and now has a permanent neurologic impairment. In my extended family as well, there are relatives with autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. These loved ones and my patients with disabilities teach me more about being a good doctor than can be learned from any books or lectures. These individuals personify kindness and serve as an example to us all about what it means to be a human being. It is our duty as Americans and particularly my duty as a physician to protect these individuals who are the most vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves. The signing of this bill states unequivocally that Indiana is a place where discrimination is not acceptable for anyone – especially the most defenseless Hoosiers.
While it is heartbreaking to think of how many innocents have been discriminated against because of their race, gender, or disability, I am proud that my state is going to protect the God-given right to life for these people in the future.
Andrew J. Mullally, M.D.
Fort Wayne, IN