Down Syndrome Community Responds to Ohio Passing Abortion Law

On Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers voted 20-12 in favor of a law that would criminalize abortions due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Once the bill is in the hands of Republican Governor John Kasich, he will have 10 days to sign it into law.

Under this law, medical professionals could lose their license and face felony charges, including jail time, for performing an abortion due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. Women who choose to have abortions would not face criminal charges.

In 2015, Kasich told CNN that he would sign a bill that bans abortions in cases with Down syndrome. In March, Ohio passed a 20-week post-fertilization abortion ban and has passed over 20 “pro-life” laws under Kasich.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt prevented a similar law from going into effect in Indiana when then-Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law that stated an abortion could not be done based on a diagnosis of fetal disability, race, color, national origin, ancestry or sex of the fetus. Pratt’s grounds for blocking the law was that it restricted a woman from getting an abortion before viability, an established right under Roe v. Wade, which states that an abortion may be done before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

The Down syndrome community, along with the general population, has been divided over Ohio’s bill and ones like it in other states. Some celebrate it as an “anti-discrimination law” while others express concerns this will be the beginning of future laws pushing to take away a woman’s right to choose. As expected, much of the conversation has become a “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” debate.

If this ban passes, some argue there must also be supports put in place for parents and children with Down syndrome. Proposed legislation in the last year, which the disabled community has protested, has included cuts to current institutions, such as Medicaid and special education services, meant to help people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Getty image by Tatiana Dyuvbanova

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