A bill currently making its way through the Ohio legislature would ban abortion following a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, The Columbus Dispatch is reporting.
Rep. Sarah LaTourette, the Republican sponsor of House Bill 135, says that banning abortion after a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome isn’t about restricting abortion – it’s about fighting discrimination against people with special needs.
“I hope that you can see that this isn’t an issue about abortion; it’s an issue of discrimination — discriminating against a person, not allowing them their God-given right to life, simply because they might have Down syndrome.”
Whether or not large numbers of women are aborting after learning that they are pregnant with babies with Down Syndrome is not clear. A 2015 study by The Lozier Institute suggests that around 30 percent of pregnancies in which the baby was diagnosed with Down Syndrome were terminated since 1986. However, a 2012 study published in Prenatal Diagnosis suggests that the number is significantly higher – somewhere between 50 and 85 percent.
Regardless of how high or how low the number of abortions following a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, doesn’t believe that it’s a matter for politicians to decide.
“This legislation would remove a choice from a woman who may be considering terminating a pregnancy due to a medical situation. Women should be able to make these big decisions in their lives without political interference.”
Dr. David Prentice of the Lozier Institute testified before the Ohio legislature in favor of the ban, saying that a diagnosis of Down Syndrome no longer means a lifetime of misery and medical problems, according to The Portage County Record-Courier.
“Medical science has also improved significantly not only in terms of surgeries to alleviate some of the physical problems associated with Down syndrome but also in potential pharmaceutical treatments.”
The bill’s supporters admit that enforcing the Down Syndrome abortion ban would be difficult. The bill does not impose criminal penalties on women who terminate their pregnancies in the event of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, but instead penalizes doctors who would perform the procedure. Under the bill, any doctor who performs an abortion would have to submit a form affirming that he or she did not perform the abortion because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
If HB 135 passes, it would make Ohio the second state to have such an abortion ban. North Dakota also bans abortion following a diagnosis of a fetal abnormality such as Down Syndrome.
[Image courtesy of: Shutterstock/Eleonora_os]