Officially Banning Down Syndrome Abortions Gets One Step Closer In Ohio

Grace Carr | Reporter

An Ohio House committee approved a bill banning abortions for women who will likely have a child with Down syndrome on Wednesday.

In a 12-6 vote, the Ohio House Health Committee okayed House Bill 214 — sponsored by Reps. Sarah LaTourette and Derek Merrin — according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“We are going to stop discriminating against people with special needs and this is the next step to getting this to Gov. Kasich,” Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis told the Columbus Dispatch Wednesday. “It’s a good day for Ohio,” Gonidakis added.

“We hope that the precedent now set by Indiana, North Dakota, and Ohio will inspire a national wave,” Americans United For Life (AUL) president Catherine Glenn Foster also said in a Thursday statement.

The law penalizes doctors for performing abortions on pregnant women who receive a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome. It does not fine or punish a woman who aborts the baby after receiving a positive test for the congenital disorder however. The doctor who performs the abortion would be held responsible and would receive a fourth-degree felony charge according to The Associated Press.

“It’s unfortunate that members of the Republican caucus are choosing to support this cruel and unconstitutional abortion ban,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann. “They made the wrong decision today,” he added.

“[Doctors] tell you of these horrific things that can happen [with a Down syndrome baby] … the different anomalies, cardiac issues …I really feel like you’re given a death sentence,” Ohio nurse Kelly Kuhns told The Associated Press in September as the bill gained momentum.

Aborting babies because a child has Down syndrome is “a modern-day form of eugenics,” Dennis Sullivan, a physician and bioethicist at Cedarville University, also said(Related: Ohio Bill Would Make It Illegal to Abort Babies Because They Have Down Syndrome).

CBS News previously reported that few countries “have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland,” and reported that almost all women in this country who receive a positive test abort their child.

As of 2015, France had a 77 percent termination rate and Denmark a 98 percent termination rate for unborn Down syndrome babies. In the United Kingdom, 90 percent of pregnant women with a positive Down syndrome test receive an abortion, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation(Related: CBS Says Down Syndrome Is Disappearing In Iceland, But Here’s What’s Really Happening).

Indiana and North Dakota have similar laws to Ohio’s newly approved bill. Indiana’s law however, has been blocked by a federal judge who ruled that the court cannot prevent a women from getting an abortion for particular reasons.

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