Alabama state Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, made comments recently that shocked many, arguing that abortion was a good solution for “unwanted” children and using an offensive slur for children with disabilities. However, while his remarks were universally condemned as offensive, his sentiment that a prenatal diagnosis of disability is a justification for abortion is shared by many in the media and Planned Parenthood.
“Some kids are unwanted, so you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later,” Rogers said in a now-viral moment during a debate. “Some parents can’t handle a child with problems. It could be retarded. It might have no arms and no legs.”
When Donald Trump Jr. called his remarks “stomach curling,” the lawmaker replied by calling Trump Jr. “evidently retarded,” adding that he was “the best defense I got for abortion right there — looking at him.”
Continued Rogers, who in the video says he is a Catholic, “His mother should have aborted him when he was born, and he wouldn’t have made that stupid statement.”
Rogers later apologized for his use of the “r” word, saying, “The ‘r’ word is a word that is old and dates way back to the 1940s. It’s not mentally challenged. It’s a different word to it now, but I did use it. … I was wrong about the retarded thing. … I’m shying away from the fact that I used the word retarded.”
“I support special-needs children, and they love me unconditionally,” he added. “I have relatives and friends with special-needs kids, so [using that word] was wrong. Charge it to my head, not my heart.”
Rogers did not comment further about whether such children should be aborted, as he said in his remarks during the debate.
Planned Parenthood and the Media
Planned Parenthood was quick to condemn Rogers’ remarks in a statement, calling them “reprehensible,” yet the abortion organization has publicly expressed a similar sentiment that women should be permitted to abort a child with a disability.
In its lawsuit against an Indiana bill that would have banned abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and other disabilities, Planned Parenthood acknowledged that women did seek abortions based on disability diagnoses and defended that practice.
When Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Tanya Pratt issued an injunction against the bill, she noted that “the parties are essentially in agreement that a significant number of women have sought, and will continue to seek, an abortion solely because of the diagnosis of a disability or the risk thereof” and that “the parties agree that the number of women who will seek an abortion at least in part out of these concerns will likely increase, as testing is more widely available than ever before.”
The abortion giant has repeatedly insisted that women should be permitted to choose abortion due to a prenatal disability diagnosis, calling it a “personal decision” and a “right.” In the sanitized language of court documents and press releases, Planned Parenthood agreed with Rogers that “some parents can’t handle a child with problems.”
The Alabama lawmaker’s idea that abortion is a good solution for disabled children has periodically graced the opinion pages of The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC News. Those writers argued, along with Rogers, that not everyone can handle the emotional and financial cost of parenting a child with disabilities so women “need” the choice of not having that child.
The Perspective of a Mother and GOP Lawmaker
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who has a son with Down syndrome, told the Register that Rogers’ remarks revealed a significant truth about what abortion does to society.
“His beliefs reveal a chilling truth that the abortion industry has tried to hide from for decades,” she emphasized. “Abortion targets and murders the most vulnerable people among us, including people with disabilities like Down syndrome. It’s an absolutely unbelievable disregard for human life.”
McMorris Rodgers said that her message for Rogers is that “the measure of a person’s value is not how much their life may cost” and “whether you ‘kill them now or you kill them later’ — it’s ending a human life. Period.” She also called the rhetoric employed by Rogers “frightening.”
“One of America’s fundamental values is life,” she pointed out. “Our equality as human beings begins with the belief in the value and human rights of every person. This kind of rhetoric is frightening, as it openly dismisses equality and human rights, one of our bedrocks as Americans.”
Numbers and Legislation
Statistics worldwide demonstrate what happens when society accepts abortion as an answer to a disability diagnosis. A recent CBS report found a near 100% abortion rate for those diagnosed with the condition in Iceland. Denmark has a 98% abortion rate following screening and diagnosis of the condition, and in France that number is 77%. The United States is not far behind, with an estimated abortion rate of 67% after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
In response to these alarming numbers, states such as Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky and Arkansas have attempted to pass legislation that bans abortion based on a diagnosis of disability. So far, that legislation has only become law in North Dakota, while other states’ measures have faced legal challenges from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Indiana legislation, signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence, is pending review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lauretta Brown is a Register staff writer.