The state of Ohio is standing up for the unborn. The state legislature passed a bill, prohibiting doctors from performing abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. They are the third state with similar legislation, reported AP.
Republican Governor John Kasich signed the legislation into law on Friday. Ohio Lawmakers sent the bill to him earlier this month, as one of their last and most important acts of the year.
The legislation received some opposition from Republicans within the GOP-led Legislature, who were concerned that the legislation inferred that children with Down syndrome have more intrinsic value than children with other disabilities.
One mother testified against the bill, saying, “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.”
However, the bill passed and signed into law. It makes it a crime for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy based on knowledge of Down syndrome. Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21 referring to the extra copy of chromosome 21, is a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and medical conditions. Those include heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems.
Any doctor who performs an abortion in cases where Down syndrome has been diagnosed is guilty fourth-degree felony. The bill also requires the state medical board to revoke the physician’s license if convicted. Pregnant women involved in such procedures won’t be penalized.
Kasich’s action was a victory for Ohio Right to Life. The Pro-life group said the bill will prevent discrimination based on misinformation.
“Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life” the group’s president, Mike Gonidakis, said in a statement Friday.
Pro-abortion groups violently argued against the law. They said it would be a blow to women’s so-called "constitutional right" to a legal abortion.
The executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Kellie Copeland, argued that the law does nothing to support families taking care of children with Down syndrome. Instead, she said the law “exploits them as part of a larger anti-choice strategy to systematically make all abortion care illegal.”
She added, “This law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face."
The ACLU of Ohio issued a statement on Friday. They argued that Kasich signed a “blatantly unconstitutional bill.” The ACLU says they are coordinating to challenge the bill.
North Dakota and Indiana already passed similar restrictions on abortion. The Indiana law, however, has been blocked by a federal judge. The judge said the state has no right to limit women’s reasons for terminating pregnancies.
North Dakota’s went into effect in 2013, and it has not been challenged. That state’s sole abortion clinic, in Fargo, hasn't had a reason to challenge it. It says the issue hasn’t arisen under its policy of not performing abortions after 16 weeks into a pregnancy.