New York, NY (September 26, 2008). After three years of advocacy, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 1810, the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosis Conditions Awareness Act, during this last week before Congress adjourns . The legislation has been an extremely high priority for the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC). These organizations and individuals with Down syndrome and their families across the country are convinced there is a need for physicians and other health professionals to provide parents who receive a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis with updated, evidenced-based information about Down syndrome.
U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), original co-sponsors of the bill, came together to pass S. 1810. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on September 23rd and passed the House by a voice vote on September 25th.
The Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act ensures that pregnant women receiving a positive prenatal test result and parents receiving a postnatal diagnosis will be more likely to receive up-to-date, scientific information about life expectancy, clinical course, intellectual and functional development, and prenatal and postnatal treatment options . It offers referrals to support services such as hotlines, Web sites, information clearinghouses, adoption registries, and parent support networks and programs specific to Down syndrome and other prenatally diagnosed conditions. The information that is all too often being provided in these situations is out-dated and inaccurate. The treatment options, functional development, opportunities and accomplishments of individuals with Down syndrome have improved dramatically over the years, yet decades old stereotypes still persist. It is critically important for healthcare professionals, families and society to update their knowledge and their perceptions about individuals with Down syndrome.
NDSS, NDSC and affiliate groups across the country, have worked for almost three years to bring the bill to passage. J. David Hoppe, NDSS Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, worked tirelessly with Members of Congress to ensure the bill would be considered despite competing time demands in Congress. “With one small eight-page statute we have the power to brighten the future for people with Down syndrome and their families, by breaking stereotypes and dispelling myths”, states Hoppe.
NDSC and NDSS and appreciate the hard work of the Members of Congress who championed the bill in the Senate and the House of Representatives—Senators Edward Kennedy and Sam Brownback, Congressmen James Sensenbrenner and Tim Ryan.
Other members of Congress who provided invaluable assistance and support- Senator Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senator Mitch McConnell, Congressman James Clyburn, Minority Leader John Boehner, Congressman Roy Blunt, Congressman John Dingell, Congressman Joe Barton, Senator Jon Kyl, Congressman Pete Sessions and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
NDSS and NDSC would like to thank the members of the Trisomy 18 Foundation and their leadership who were diligent and stalwart supporters in the effort to pass the bill.
NDSC and NDSS would also like to thank their affiliates and the thousands of individuals with Down syndrome, parents, families and friends who have worked tirelessly during the three-year effort to pass the legislation.
The National Down Syndrome Society is a nonprofit organization with more than 250 affiliates nationwide representing the more than 400,000 Americans who have this genetic condition. NDSS is committed to being the national leader in supporting and enhancing the quality of life, and realizing the potential of all people with Down syndrome. We demonstrate this commitment through our education, research and advocacy initiatives that benefit people with Down syndrome and their families. To learn more visit our new website www.ndss.org.
The National Down Syndrome Congress is America’s oldest national organization of individuals with Down syndrome, their families, friends and the professionals who work with them. NDSC works to promote equal rights and opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome through advocacy, information and education. The NDSC also hosts the world’s largest annual gathering of teens and adults with Down syndrome, as well as parents and professionals. For more information, please visit www.ndsccenter.org.