“The fact that there is legislation about it underscores the passion behind it,” said Whitten, who has a daughter with the condition.
The debate about abortion has become intertwined with Down syndrome in recent years because of the availability of a noninvasive test that can screen for Trisomy 21 — the chromosomal defect that leads to the condition.
Down-syndrome advocacy groups for the most part have stayed out of the abortion debate, neither endorsing the bills nor coming out against them.
Since then, antiabortion activists have constructed what the Guttmacher Institute calls “a lattice work of abortion law, codifying, regulating and limiting whether, when and under what circumstances a woman may obtain an abortion.” Antiabortion activists have also moved the battleground from Washington to the states.
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The test requires only a blood sample from the mother that is analyzed for tiny bits of DNA from the baby.
In the past, women had to undergo chorionic villus sampling, in which cells are taken from the placenta, or amniocentesis, which involves removing fluid from the womb, to test for the chromosomal abnormality.