Ohio Bill Would Make It the Third State to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Katherine Franklin   |   May 10, 2017   |   11:33AM   |   Columbus, OH

Today, Ohio Right to Life’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act (H.B. 214) was introduced in the Ohio House by pro-life Representatives Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) and Derek Merrin (R-Monclova Township).

The legislation, which has 18 co-sponsors, would prohibit an abortion from being performed on an unborn child on the basis of that child having Down syndrome. The legislation comes in response to studies which show that 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

“While abortion is never the right choice, it is particularly appalling that babies are being targeted for elimination based on a disability,” said Devin Scribner, executive director of Ohio Right to Life. “Disturbingly, this practice has turned into a search and destroy mission around the globe, causing some to ask if we are headed towards a Down syndrome-free world. The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act presents a better way forward, and says something profound about the kind of society we want to be: One that protects and defends the rights of every human person, regardless of ability; or one that literally discards the vulnerable based on their utility. Ohio Right to Life is eager to end this discriminatory abortion practice here in Ohio.”

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The practice of aborting children based on a Down syndrome diagnosis has been hailed as a victory in European countries like Denmark where 98 percent of babies with a positive diagnosis are aborted and in Iceland where 100 percent are aborted. Last year, a French court banned a pro-life commercial featuring smiling children with Down syndrome on the basis that it could “disturb the conscience” of women who had aborted their unborn children.

“Only at the darkest moments in human history has such a horrific eugenic practice been dressed up as ‘progressive,'” said Scribner. “At a time when society has become increasingly accepting and accommodating towards those with disabilities, this is exactly the kind of practice we should be denouncing. The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is Ohio’s opportunity to do just that. We look forward to hearings in the Ohio House as an opportunity to educate our leaders and our neighbors about the vibrant lives led by those with Down syndrome and their value in our human family.”

The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act was originally introduced in 2015. Although it had multiple hearings, with family and professional advocates testifying in favor of the legislation, it did not make it out of the Ohio House. In 2017, the legislation is being co-sponsored by Representatives Andy Thompson, John Becker, Niraj Antani, Jim Butler, Kyle Koehler, Rob McColley, Craig Riedle, Scott Wiggam, Candice Keller, Tom Brinkman, Keith Faber, Wes Goodman, Steve Hambley, Wes Retherford, Michael Henne, Ron Hood, Louis Blessing, and Tim Schaffer.