Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Clears The Ohio Senate

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Grace Carr Reporter
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The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday banning abortions if a mother receives a diagnosis that her unborn child will be born with Down syndrome on Wednesday.

The lawmakers passed Senate Bill 164 in a 20-12 vote Wednesday, after the Ohio House of Representatives voted in a 63-30 vote to pass its companion bill — House Bill 214 — at the beginning of the month.

Like House Bill 214, the Senate bill penalizes doctors for performing abortions on pregnant women who receive a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome. However, authorities would not fine or punish a woman who aborts her baby after receiving a positive test for the congenital disorder. (Related: Ohio House Passes Bill Banning Down Syndrome Abortions).

“We are continuously encouraged by how Ohio is on the forefront of protecting the unborn,” Ohio Right To Life President Mike Gonidakis said in a statement, according to “All Ohioans regardless of the gender, skin color or disability deserve the right to live out their God-given potential and purpose.”

Not everyone is enthused about the ban. “It’s ironic that those who claim they believe in limited government are once again choosing to insert themselves in a relationship that is sacred between that practitioner and their patient,” said state Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus Democrat who fears the bill will discourage doctors from practicing in Ohio.

“This bill sends a very clear message, that some disabilities are more worthy of life than others and that one disability — Down syndrome — is the most worthy,” Jane Gerhardt told lawmakers on Tuesday. Her daughter has Down syndrome, but she thinks the bill divides the disability community by selecting what disabilities warrant protection.

“This is a sideways step and does not reach the ultimate goal,” said Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, a Republican. Dolan voted against the bill  and thinks it should be rejected because the law would not treat all life equally and is likely unconstitutional. (Related: CBS Says Down Syndrome Is Disappearing In Iceland, But Here’s What’s Really Happening).

The Ohio General Assembly will have to send one bill to GOP Gov. John Kasich’s desk to get enacted into law.

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