Advocating for down syndrome rights and women's health - Patricia Stewart's powerful testimony before the Joint Committee on Public Health

Photo credit: video streaming screenshot - courtesy of the Massachusetts House Broadcast Services

On June 6, 2023, Patricia Stewart, Executive Director of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, presented herself before the Joint Committee on Public Health at the historic Gardner Auditorium in the Massachusetts State House. Patricia passionately delivered her testimony in support of two bills aimed at safeguarding the most vulnerable members of society.

The first bill she advocated for was H.2277, commonly referred to as the "An Act related to Down syndrome." Patricia began her testimony by emphasizing the tremendous value that individuals with Down syndrome bring to our communities. She highlighted that Down syndrome should be seen as an opportunity for personal growth, accomplishment, and a meaningful life, rather than a death sentence. Patricia stated that during the reporting period of 2013-2014, the abortion rate in Massachusetts for pregnancies diagnosed with Down syndrome reached an alarming 49%.

Photo credit: video streaming screenshot - courtesy of the Massachusetts House Broadcast Services

Bringing attention to the term "velvet eugenics" coined by bioethicist Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Patricia expressed her concerns about the commodification of reproductive services and the gradual elimination of disabilities. She cautioned against the potential eradication of future generations of children with Down syndrome unless decisive action was taken. H.2277 aimed to combat discrimination against unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome by prohibiting abortion providers from performing the procedure solely based on this diagnosis. Patricia clarified that the bill did not seek to outlaw abortion entirely but rather aimed to redirect society's moral trajectory.

Transitioning to the second bill, H.2181, entitled "An Act relative to protecting women's health; restore born-alive protection," Patricia addressed the risks associated with late-term abortions. She underscored the increased dangers faced by women as pregnancies progressed, including life-threatening complications. Patricia shared concerning statistics that revealed late-term abortions in Massachusetts accounted for 2.6% of all abortions in 2021, more than double the projected rate for the entire United States. H.2181 aimed to safeguard women's health by restricting abortions after the second trimester to cases where the mother's life was in danger. Additionally, the bill mandated life-saving treatment for babies who survived attempted abortions, ensuring that their right to life was recognized and protected.

Photo credit: Helen Cross

Submit your written testimony in support of H.2277 & H.2181

You can use our Legislative Action Center to submit your written testimony using the following links:


We highly encourage the submission of written testimony, which will be accepted even after the hearing until the relevant bill is acted upon.

Generally, committees allow written testimony for a period of several days or weeks following a public hearing. Therefore, you have enough time to send your statement in support of the bill. However, it is advisable to do so sooner rather than later. Your testimony may range from a brief two-paragraph statement on a single page to a more detailed document of any length.