Utah lawmakers moved to push forward a bill banning abortion for unborn babies with Down syndrome when they voted Thursday night to advance the measure to the House floor.
Despite pushback from some lawmakers who allege the bill is not constitutional, the state’s House Judiciary committee voted to persist after an emotional hearing with impassioned arguments for and against the bill late Thursday. The law penalizes doctors for performing abortions on pregnant women who receive a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome.
The bill’s sponsor, GOP state Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, calls Down syndrome abortions “a eugenic-like eradication.”
The bill would not fine or punish a woman who aborts her 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 along with a fine of up to $2500, according to U.S. News. (RELATED: Ohio Governor Signs Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Into Law)
Pro-Life Utah group member Kristy Nielsen likened people with Down syndrome to endangered animals, claiming it’s ironic Utah protects animals and plants but won’t do the same when “a targeted people group is in danger of extinction.”
Hearing attendees also explained why they could not support the bill.
“I cannot do this again,” Dawn Nunn, the mother of an adult son with a disability, tearfully told the Utah lawmakers. Explaining her opposition for the bill, she added: “I did it. I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life, but I can’t do it again.”
France had a 77 percent termination rate as of 2015 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)
Four U.S. states currently ban abortions for babies that receive a positive test for Down syndrome.
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