This Article examines the influence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on affective attitudes toward children with disabilities and on the incidence of disability-selective abortion. Applying regression analysis to U.S. natality data, we find that the birthrate of children with Down syndrome declined significantly in the years following the ADA’s passage. Controlling for technological, demographic, and cultural variables suggests that the ADA may have encouraged prospective parents to prevent the existence of the very class of people it was designed to protect. We explain this paradox by showing the way in which specific ADA provisions could have given rise to demeaning media depictions and social conditions that reinforced negative understandings and expectations among prospective parents about what it means to have a child with a disability. We discuss implications for antidiscrimination law and prenatal testing policy.

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 7-2009

Publication Information

2009 Utah Law Review 845-905