Ohio Committee Passes Bill to Make It the Second State to Ban Abortions Based on Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 16, 2015   |   6:32PM   |   Columbus, OH

An Ohio state legislative committee approved a pro-life bill today to ban abortions specifically done on unborn babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome. The vote in favor of the measure sends the bill to the full Ohio state House for a vote.

The Ohio House Committee on Community and Family Advancement voted in favor of the bill 9-3 with bipartisan support.

The percentage of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth and who eventually become victims of abortions is outlandishly high. Studies show somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-90 percent of unborn babies with Down syndrome are victimized by abortions.

“With these committee hearings, Ohioans have had the opportunity to define what kind of state we want to be: one that accommodates difference and protects every person’s right to life,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. “We are tremendously proud of this committee for taking steps towards making Ohio a safer place for every human child, regardless of how many chromosomes they have.”

Today, before the committee vote, Dr. Ashley K. Fernandes board trustee of Ohio Right to Life, testified in favor of the legislation. He is a pediatrician and a bioethicist and is the Associate Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“It is my duty, and that of any pediatrician, to create a climate of love and support for these families and their children,” said Dr. Fernandes. “To show solidarity with them, to be, for what it’s worth in our brief visits with them, a face of love and hope. You as legislators, whom we have entrusted to codify the shared moral values of our society and state, also have that obligation. Children with Down syndrome are persons worthy of dignity and worthy to be cherished.”

North Dakota eventually became the first state in the United States to ban abortions on babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome. With the governor’s signature on the ban in 2013, Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple took that state in a decidedly pro-life direction.

Eventually a judge dismissed a legal challenge abortion activists brought against the legislation.

Now, the state of Ohio is considering a similar ban on abortions of babies with Down syndrome.

Ohio Right to Life’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act (H.B. 135) was introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. The legislation, sponsored by Representatives Sarah LaTourrette and David Hall, comes after multiple studies have demonstrated that upwards of 90 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Sixteen legislators signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

“More and more, it seems that society is rejecting discrimination in favor of diversity, empathy, and understanding for the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our communities,” said Stephanie Ranade Krider. “It makes sense that we would apply that practice across the whole spectrum of life, to protect some of the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, starting in the womb.”

Naturally, abortion backers have no problem with aborting babies simply because they have the disability. The Planned Parenthood abortion business opposed the bill in committee.

Molly Pesich, who was told before birth that her baby would have Down Syndrome, thinks such children deserve protection from abortion.

“This child isn’t perfect so reject?  I don’t think that’s right,” she says.

Ohio Right to Life aims to educate the state about the high rate of abortions performed on babies diagnosed with Down syndrome while highlighting the positive impact that people with Down syndrome have on their families. In 2011, the American Journal of Medical Genetics ran a three-part series on the impact children with Down syndrome have on families.

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Nearly 99 percent of people with Down syndrome indicated that they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they were, and 96 percent liked how they looked. Additionally, more than 96 percent of brothers/sisters indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with Down syndrome. Of over 2,000 parents who responded to the survey, 99 percent reported that they loved their son or daughter and 97 percent were proud of them.

“Sadly, many women turn to abortion when they discover their unborn child might have Down syndrome,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourrette. “Having worked in the adoption field, I know firsthand that there are plenty of alternatives to abortion that respect the value of life. I am proud to introduce legislation that will end this horrific form of discrimination. This is a small step in ensuring the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all individuals – not just the ‘perfect’ or the born.”

“Terminating the life of an unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome is both eugenic and a form of disability discrimination,” said Dorinda Bordlee, Chief Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund. “Nothing in the U.S. Supreme Court abortion jurisprudence protects these practices that devalue the lives of all persons living with Down syndrome.”

At the time North Dakota adopted its bill, Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest praised it.

“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.”

Yoest said that, while federal and state laws protect women and the disabled from discrimination, the unborn are not similarly protected.