Ohio Senate sends Down syndrome abortion ban to Gov. John Kasich

Carla Harmon
December 16, 2017

Three Republicans broke ranks to vote against the pro-life bill: Matt Dolan (Chagrin Falls), Gayle Manning (North Ridgeville), and Stephanie Kunze (Hilliard). The state has appealed. The state's sole abortion clinic, in Fargo, says the issue hasn't arisen under its policy of not performing abortions after 16 weeks into a pregnancy.

The state legislature approved the bill Wednesday, sending it to the desk of Gov. John Kasich (R), who has not said explicitly whether he plans to sign it.

The bill makes it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion knowing the fetus has been diagnosed with or is likely to have Down syndrome from a prenatal test.

If we believe that life is precious no matter how God forms it in the womb, we need to extend our protection to these defenseless children even more so than we do to the healthy unborn who are being aborted because of convenience's sake in our culture. Women involved in such procedures wouldn't be penalized.

"We commend OH lawmakers for moving to end lethal discrimination against unborn children with Down syndrome", said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group based in Washington, D.C. "Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality", said president Mike Gonidakis. Kasich's spokesman declined to say what the governor would do.

Abortion rights groups urged Kasich to veto the measure.

Kasich had called the bill "appropriate" in the past, noted the newspaper. Planned Parenthood planned a Statehouse protest rally on Thursday.

On Ohio Gov. John Kasich's desk is a bill sent to him this week by the General Assembly, that would make it a crime to abort a baby exclusively because the unborn child has Down syndrome.

"This bill does nothing to improve the lives of people with disabilities, nor increase their access to health care or other services, nor does it educate a woman and her family about having a child with a disability", Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of OH, said in a statement.

The bill divided the disability community, with some saying the bill ends discrimination and others saying it will not help Ohioans who have the genetic disorder.

Those against the bill though feel Down syndrome is just a pawn in restricting women's choice and disregards the fact that every woman's pregnancy is different.

"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", said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Babies born with Down syndrome face many challenges. According to recent data, the United States had an estimated termination rate for Down syndrome of 67 percent from 1995-2011.

But the OH proposal is based simply on a belief that women do not have the right to choose whether unborn children who do not meet their hopes should have their lives cut short before they can even be born.

News this year about Iceland's near eradication of Down syndrome births has also pushed fears about the heavy-handedness of genetic counseling.

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