Judge’s Ruling Makes North Dakota First to Ban Abortions Based on Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 12, 2013   |   12:37PM   |   Bismarck, ND

A judge’s ruling dismissing part of an abortion center’s lawsuit against a North Dakota law that bans abortions on disabled unborn children on the basis that they are disabled makes the state the first to have such a ban in place.

With the governor’s signature on the ban earlier this year, North Dakota has become the first state to ban abortions based on genetic “defects” like Down Syndrome. When diagnosed before birth, such genetic abnormalities prompt couples to have abortions 90 percent of the time.

The state legislature approved the measure and Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed it in March.

The measure would also ban abortion based on gender selection, an issue of increasing concern in the United States has people from nations like China and India migrate to the United States and bring their cultural preference for boys with them.

Now, a judge has dismissed the legal challenge to a portion of the law the state’s lone abortion business challenged in its lawsuit. IN an AP report, the abortion center claims that’s okay with it since it reportedly doesn’t do abortions for those reasons anyway. However, it provided no proof that it asks abortion clients if they are having an abortion because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome or another condition.

A federal judge has dismissed part of a lawsuit challenging a new North Dakota law that blocks abortions based on unwanted gender or a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome.

The state’s sole abortion clinic in Fargo, backed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, filed the lawsuit in June. That suit also challenges another new measure that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected; it was temporarily blocked in July.

The measures are among four Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed into law this year with overwhelming support by the state’s Republican-led Legislature.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland granted the Red River Women’s Clinic request to drop the gender and genetic defects part of the lawsuit on Monday. The clinic has said the ban doesn’t affect it because it doesn’t perform abortions for that reason.

Hovland dismissed that portion of the lawsuit without prejudice, meaning the clinic can revive a legal challenge later.

Janet Crepps, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that “it is not clear that the measure will have a direct impact on any women seeking abortion services at the Red River Women’s Clinic at this time.”

At the time the law was signed this year, Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest told LifeNews she was delighted Rep. Bette Grande championed the bill. The law is based on AUL-model legislation and also makes North Dakota the fifth state to ban the sexist practice of ending a child’s life based on its sex. But importantly, North Dakota becomes the first state to end the practice of destroying unborn life based on potential genetic abnormalities.

“A civil society does not discriminate against people – born and unborn – for their sex or for disability.  We should be celebrating diversity, not destroying it,” she said. “Women in particular have been targeted for death in the womb, and we’ve also seen dramatic abortion rates for children with disabilities which put them at risk for extinction. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Rep. Bette Grande and the legislators in North Dakota have shown courageous humanity in passing this legislation.”

“North Dakota House Bill (HB) 1305, sponsored by Rep. Grande, serves essential public interests by prohibiting both sex-selection abortion and abortion for genetic abnormalities,” she continued. “Sex-selection abortion is gender-based violence generally targeted toward females. Likewise, abortion performed solely because of genetic abnormalities is discriminatory and devalues the lives of the disabled.”

Yoest said that, while federal and state laws protect women and the disabled from discrimination, the unborn are not similarly protected.  HB 1305 cures this deficiency in the law and ensures protection for unborn children who are targeted for death solely because of their sex or genetic abnormalities. The other states that ban sex-selective abortions are Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania.