Oklahoma House Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 21, 2017   |   5:58PM   |   Washington, DC

The Oklahoma state House marked World Down Syndrome Day on Tuesday by passing a bill to prohibit abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders.

KFOR News in Oklahoma reports state House Bill 1549 passed in a 67-17 vote and now moves to the state Senate for consideration. The bill would prohibit discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s genetic abnormalities and hold abortion practitioners who violate the legislation liable.

A state House committee initially failed to pass the bill in February after some lawmakers expressed concerns about court challenges, according to the report. However, several committee members later changed their positions and voted to pass the bill on to the full state House for a vote.

“Life is a gift from God,” state Rep. George Faught told KFOR. “Today, I am thankful that the members of the House of Representatives chose to protect that gift.”

However, the abortion advocacy group Trust Women Foundation slammed the bill in a statement, saying women should be the ones to decide if abortion is “the best outcome” for her “pregnancy.”

Last year, Indiana became the second state to ban abortions based on genetic conditions like Down syndrome. However, a judge blocked the law. In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to protect unborn babies from abortions based on a diagnosis of disabilities. A handful of states also ban abortions based solely on the baby’s sex.

Babies with Down syndrome and other genetic conditions often are targeted for abortions. In Iceland, for example, there has not been a single baby born with Down syndrome in the past five years, according to testimony from Dr. Peter McParland, an Ob-Gyn at National Maternity Hospital in Ireland.

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“In Iceland,” McParland pointed out, “every single baby—100 percent of all those diagnosed with Down syndrome—are aborted.”

Research in the United States and Europe puts abortions of babies with Down syndrome at anywhere from 30 percent to 90-plus percent after a positive test.

Surveys and personal stories indicate that parents often are pressured to consider abortion when their unborn baby is diagnosed with a genetic disorder.

Rebecca Kelly, the mother of a 5-year-old with Down syndrome, recently surveyed 58 women who chose life for their babies with Down syndrome, Australia Daily Mail reports. The survey results indicated that 60 percent of the women reported the Down Syndrome diagnosis was portrayed to them in “negative language.” In the cases where women refused abortion, the survey found that two-thirds of the women said they were asked about abortion again, and one-fifth said they were frequently asked to reconsider abortion.