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Ohio House Passes Bill Banning Down Syndrome Abortions

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

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Grace Carr Reporter

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday banning abortions if a mother receives a diagnosis that her unborn child will be born with Down syndrome.

The House voted in a 63-30 vote to pass House Bill 214, which will now head to the state Senate for a final vote before it can become law, according to USA Today.

Sponsored by state Reps. Sarah LaTourette and Derek Merrin, the law penalizes doctors for performing abortions on pregnant women who receive a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome. However, it does not fine or punish a woman who aborts her baby after receiving a positive test for the congenital disorder. The doctor who performs the abortion would be held responsible and would receive a fourth-degree felony charge, according to The Associated Press.

“Their right to life should be protected,” Merrin said after the vote. “Individuals with Down syndrome are truly treasures.”

“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 said after the bill was approved for a vote last week. (RELATED: Officially Banning Down Syndrome Abortions Gets One Step Closer In Ohio)

“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 statement after the bill was approved for a vote, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“This bill creates a hierarchy of disabilities with Down syndrome on the top,” said Cincinnati Rep. Brigid Kelly, who worries that the ban sends the wrong message to other people with disabilities.

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

As of 2015, France had a 77 percent termination rate and Denmark had 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 passed 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, making North Dakota the only state with an effective ban on Down syndrome abortions.

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