Legislature Passes Bill Banning Abortion For Fetuses With Down Syndrome

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On Wednesday, the Ohio state legislature passed a bill that would bar women from getting abortions because of a diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome, The Washington Post reports. Republican governor John Kasich is expected to sign the bill. Though he has not openly commented on the matter, the governor is largely considered to be pro-life, but he does come from the more moderate wing of the GOP.

Should the bill become law, it would be the first ban of its type to go into effect. Similar measures have been passed in North Dakota, Indiana, and Louisiana, but the latter two’s measures have been blocked by the courts.

This particular bill has proven a controversial one as it is targeted towards fetuses which are believed to have Down syndrome. Some within the disability advocacy community have argued in favor of such laws saying that abortions undertaken for this reason could lead to eugenics. Other groups argue that such bans do nothing to improve the lives of women and is unconstitutional.

Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, released a statement praising the bill’s passage.

‘Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.’

Angela Boblitt, an anti-abortion activist who runs an adoption agency, praised the bill because she thinks it will protect children like her daughter Lucy, who has Down syndrome, and help advance her cause.

‘I just think it’s a part of the puzzle to us coming toward seeing an end to abortion. And we definitely do feel that aborting a child because of a medical diagnosis is discriminatory.’

On the other hand, Leesha Thrower, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, was incensed at the vote. The mother of a six-year-old with Down syndrome said that she felt like lawmakers were exploiting her daughter for political gain.

‘If politicians were really concerned with Down syndrome, the things we’d be talking about are access to health care, independent living, opportunities for children when they graduate high school. We’d be talking about companies that should be hiring children with Down syndrome.’

The ACLU’s Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, warned that this bill encouraged women to withhold information from their doctors and interfered in a women’s right to choose.

‘This encourages women to withhold information from their doctors, and it prevents them from having open and honest conversations to be able to make the most-informed decision. It is all the more clear that [lawmakers] will try anything to push abortion out of reach for women in the state.’

Should Kasich sign the law, it is likely that the ACLU would sue to block it arguing that it violates Roe v. Wade.

Featured image via Getty Images.