Supreme Court Told to Uphold 20-Week Ban to Protect Down Syndrome Babies From Abortion

State   |   Dorinda Bordlee   |   Nov 14, 2013   |   7:46PM   |   Washington, DC

Lead counsel Bioethics Defense Fund filed a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Supreme Court making a novel legal argument addressing disability-selective abortion.

The amicus brief was filed on behalf of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation USA, Saving Downs, and the International Down Syndrome Coalition – non-profit organizations that, among other things, provide support and advocacy to benefit families receiving a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and other disabilities.

The amicus brief was filed in support of a 2012 Arizona law that limits abortion after twenty weeks gestational age, except when necessary to avoid death or serious health risk to the mother. Physicians challenging the law confirm that the vast majority of disability-selective abortions occur after twenty weeks gestation, and amici organizations report that this is due to fear, lack of supportive information, and often pressure from misguided medical professionals.

The law reflects Arizona’s interest in limiting abortion of pain-capable unborn children, and in protecting the health of women from the exponentially increased risks of late-term abortion.

This disability rights amicus brief highlights Arizona’s additional interests in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession from engaging in eugenic decision making, and by disfavoring discriminatory abortion and even proposals for infanticide of unborn children identified as having a disability, in accord with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal law.

The brief explains that the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence has not and should not protect disability-selective abortions.

The brief explains that the Planned Parenthood v. Casey opinion affirming Roe v. Wadewas premised on a so-called right to decide “whether to bear or beget a child,” but that the U.S. Ninth Circuit panel erroneously broadened that opinion to give constitutional protection to the decision whether to bear or selectively abort this particular child based on a prenatal diagnosis of disability.

The dignity of a child does not change with a diagnosis of Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, or any other health condition, as recognized by numerous U.N. resolutions.

The amicus brief was filed in support of a U.S. Supreme Court petition in the case ofHorne v. Isaacson, No. 13-402 by lead counsel Nikolas T. Nikas along with Dorinda C. Bordlee of theBioethics Defense Fund, D. John Sauer and associates from the law firm of Clark & Sauer, andCatherine W. Short of Life Legal Defense Foundation.



Read the brief: FILED BDF AZ 20 Week Amicus (…).

Amici organizations advocate for medical professionals to educate themselves on the latest research confirming the positive experiences of families with special needs children, and to assist families with supportive information rather than offering pregnancy termination, a practice that offends the basic principle of the dignity of all human life. For more information, contact the organizations here:

Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA (
Saving Downs (
International Down Syndrome Coalition (