Ohio Outlaws Selective Abortion of Down Syndrome Babies

The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life said that the bill's signing into law was a victory.

An anti-abortion group says a new OH law banning doctors from performing abortions based on diagnoses of Down syndrome will give unborn babies with the genetic disorder "a shot at life".

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that affects cognitive ability, causing mild to severe learning disabilities and distinctive facial characteristics.

Gov. John Kasich has signed a OH bill into law that would ban doctors from performing abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

It makes performing an abortion in such cases a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and requires the state medical board to revoke a convicted doctor's license. As a result of the law, doctors will be required to report to the Ohio Department of Health that in each abortion performed the woman wasn't seeking it because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

In November, after Ohio's House and Senate passed the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union of OH countered, saying they oppose the bill as it sets a precedent for politicians to interfere in the lives of women.

OH is the fourth state to pass an abortion ban for fetuses with Down syndrome, according to The Washington Post, though courts have blocked the laws from going into effect in IN and Louisiana. "This law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face". The Republican governor had previously vetoed the "heartbeat bill", which would have banned abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, but signed another bill prohibiting abortions after the fifth month, or 20 weeks.

The move drew a strong response from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland. In Indiana, a federal judge ruled in June 2016 that restricting abortion access on the basis of a Down syndrome diagnosis infringed on "a liberty right to make independent decisions"-a principal guaranteed under the Supreme Court's landmark Roe. v. Wade decision".

"Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life", Mike Gonidakis, president of the pro-life group Ohio Right to Life, said in a statement.

  • Rogelio Becker