One State Aims to Ban Down Syndrome Abortions

But pro-choice advocates say it violates Roe v. Wade
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2015 5:00 PM CDT
One State Aims to Ban Down Syndrome Abortions
A protester holds her son during a rally in front of a Planned Parenthood office.   (Don Shrubshell/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP)

Ohio women, take note: Soon you may be unable to get an abortion if you're doing it to avoid having a baby with Down syndrome. The state's legislature—most of which is pro-life—appears poised to approve such a bill this fall and send it to Gov. John Kasich. He has signed abortion restrictions before, reports the New York Times, though it notes he hasn't stated his stance on this bill. "We all want to be born perfect, but none of us are, and everyone has a right to live, perfect or not," says Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, which lobbied for the bill. "Pretty soon, we’re going to find the gene for autism. Are we going to abort for that, too?" As it stands, an 2012 study in Prenatal Diagnosis found that fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted between roughly 60% and 90% of the time.

But abortion-rights lawyers say the bill doesn't jibe with Roe v. Wade and gets us closer to seeing the fetus as a person with its own rights. Indeed, an Ohio legislator who supports the bill says that "this isn’t an issue about abortion—it’s an issue of discrimination" against people with Down syndrome, the Huffington Post reports. Some critics doubt that such a law can be enforced, and note that a 2013 North Dakota law banning abortion in all cases of fetal genetic problems (including Down syndrome) has led to no prosecutions. Others say that no law can apply fairly to all family situations and medical diagnoses. Similar legislation failed to pass last year in South Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri, the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted in February, but seven states do prohibit abortion over gender selection. (Meanwhile, teen pregnancy is plummeting in Colorado.)

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