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Ohio Senate Passes Bill Banning Abortions of Fetuses With Down Syndrome

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On Wednesday, November 15, the Ohio Senate passed a bill that would ban aborting fetuses that have or are suspected to have Down syndrome. According to the bill, if prenatal testing shows a fetus has Down syndrome or if any other indicators suggest a fetus may have Down syndrome, then abortion would be prohibited — even if Down syndrome wasn’t the reason the parents wanted an abortion.

If a doctor has any knowledge that the fetus has Down syndrome and performs an abortion, the doctor would be guilty of a fourth-degree felony. If convicted, they would lose their license to practice in the state of Ohio and could be liable to a civil suit. The mother would not be at fault.

Before the bill becomes law in Ohio, it must be signed by Gov. John Kasich. 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.

“The life of every child is precious, regardless of disability,” Sen. Frank LaRose, the bill’s primary sponsor, said. “Every child, no matter the circumstance, has the right to life. This legislation will protect the lives of unborn children with disabilities, valuing them as equal members of society.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio countered, saying they oppose the bill as it sets a precedent for politicians to interfere in the lives of women.

“The ACLU of Ohio opposes discrimination in all forms, and works to ensure that people with disabilities are treated with equality and dignity,” the ACLU said in a statement. “However, this purposely divisive legislation is about restricting abortion, not protecting against discrimination.”

The bill is in direct conflict with the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which states that an abortion may be done before a fetus can survive outside the womb.

US 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.

If Ohio’s bill follows the same path as the one in Indiana, it will likely end up in court due to its unconstitutionality, the ACLU of Ohio said.

Photo by aceshot.

Originally published: November 22, 2017
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