Ohio pro-lifers expect Down syndrome abortion ban to pass
by Courtney Crandell
Posted 8/26/15, 04:10 pm
Pro-life advocates in Ohio have worked since the spring to pass legislation banning abortion for babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. The bill passed out of the state House committee in June and likely will garner majority support this fall, said Katie Franklin, a spokeswoman for Ohio Right to Life (ORTL).
The bill bans abortionists from killing unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. About 90 percent of babies with the diagnosis are aborted. The bill holds the abortionists, not the mother, accountable for violating the law. Violations are punishable by six to 18 months in prison and the revocation of the abortionist’s medical license.
“Ohio Right to Life is trying to build a more inclusive society where every child is cherished no matter how many chromosomes they have,” Franklin said. “This legislation is going very far in accomplishing that mission.”
Ohio’s House of Representatives will vote on the bill once it returns to session in September. The state legislature is strongly pro-life, and Franklin expects the Senate to pass the bill as well.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich hasn’t said whether he will sign the bill if passed. But his pro-life track record suggests his likely approval: He has signed 14 pieces of pro-life legislation during the past four years, and the abortion rate in Ohio has dropped under his leadership, Franklin said. Kasich is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
The law would make Ohio the second state to ban abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. North Dakota passed a similar ban in 2013, prohibiting abortions for fetal abnormalities.
Abortion advocates in the state claim the bill would violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman’s right to abort her child up to the point of viability. Others claim the bill is unenforceable. The law would require abortionists to verify on an abortion report they had no knowledge a woman sought an abortion due to a Down syndrome diagnosis.
“They’re trying to encroach on the right to abortion, step by step, and turn a woman’s healthcare decision into an issue of discrimination against the fetus,” Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy at the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told The New York Times. “I can’t imagine how any of these laws would be enforceable.”
But most regulations in the medical field trust medical professionals to adhere to established standards and report truthfully, said ORTL President Mike Gonidakis. The cost of losing a medical license should sufficiently deter abortionists from violating the law, he said.
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects children with Down syndrome once they’re born, Gonidakis noted, but they have no protection before birth in most states: “They are human beings. When we treat them as any less, that’s an indictment.”