Lawmakers push for more info on Down syndrome for pregnant women - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lawmakers push for more info on Down syndrome for pregnant women

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department is currently authorized to give pregnant women information about pre-natal screening and care. But some lawmakers believe it can do more to give out information when it comes to pregnancy and Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is the disorder in genetic material that results in intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. It's estimated that there are 6,000 babies born in the U.S. every year with Down syndrome, but there could have been many more.

"Ninety percent of children supposedly with Down syndrome are being aborted in the United States," said Garret Hashimoto of the Aloha Pregnancy Care and Counseling Center.

Eddie and Shani Naleieha are the parents of six-year-old Sammie, who has Down syndrome. "We felt like we were pressured to give up our baby with an abortion," said Eddie Naleieha. "They were trying to push us that way."

"We were told that she would never amount to anything, our lvies would be miserable because she would have many health issues, and she'd have many delays, and she would be a burden to our family," said Shani Naleieha, who's now with Down Syndrome Ohana Hawaii. "And we told the doctors no, we're keeping her."

The Naleieha family and others are supporting a house resolution asking the Health Department to require that all pregnant women be given information about screening and tests for Down syndrome, and where to get help if the tests come back positive. It was introduced by state Rep. Sam Kong, whose wife had been tested when she was pregnant.

"So hopefully in the future, doctors will disseminate the correct information to all parties," said Kong.

Parents who support the measure said they have no regrets in having their children, including Chris Whaley, who's a dad to four girls, including eight-year-old Brylee.

"If this bill will improve that rate and lower that rate (of abortions) and get more children like my daughter in the world, to be a part of this country and this world, I think that's just a beautiful thing," said Whaley.

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