Ohio Poised to Become the 3rd State to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 25, 2017   |   10:16AM   |   Columbus, OH

Ohio lawmakers are working hard to end eugenic discrimination against unborn babies with Down syndrome.

Right now, lawmakers are considering two bills that would prohibit abortions based solely on a Down syndrome diagnosis. If the legislation passes, Ohio would become the third state to protect unborn babies with the genetic disorder from abortion.

One of the key advocates of the bill is Kelly Kuhns, a Plain City, Ohio mother and nurse whose son has Down syndrome. Kuhns told the Columbus Dispatch that doctors suggested she abort her son, but she immediately refused.

Despite her resolve, she said the news of her son’s diagnosis troubled her, and the medical counseling did not help.

“They tell you of these horrific things that can happen, the different anomalies, cardiac issues,” she told the AP. “So you plan for the worst, and I really feel like you’re given a death sentence.”

But her son Oliver, 2, is doing well. Kuhns said he has more medical appointments than her other children, but he leads a “pretty normal life” otherwise.

Kuhns is advocating for the Ohio legislation to help children like her son.

Studies indicate unborn babies with Down syndrome are targeted for abortions at very high rates. A CBS News report earlier this year shocked the nation by reporting that Iceland has an almost 100-percent abortion rate for unborn babies with the genetic disorder.

The Ohio legislation would help protect unborn babies from this modern eugenic trend. Bills in the state House and Senate would prohibit abortions based solely on the genetic condition, and punish abortionists who are caught violating the law. Penalties could include fourth-degree felony charges, revocation of their medical license and liability for legal damages.

The eugenic push already prompted two other states to pass bills banning these discriminatory abortions. In 2016, Indiana became the second state to pass a law banning abortions based on a genetic disorder, race or sex. North Dakota was the first in 2013.

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Abortion activists with NARAL and other groups are fighting against the Ohio legislation.

Dr. Erika Boothman, an OB-GYN physician resident, told the Columbus Dispatch that the legislation could hurt the doctor-patient relationship.

“There’s nowhere in the culture of prenatal testing or genetic counseling or obstetricians that would try to coerce or force a woman to terminate a pregnancy,” Boothman said. “This is all about providing a patient with information and letting her make the choice with what she wants to do with that information.”

But many parents say otherwise. Women frequently report feeling pressured to abort their unborn babies after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or other anomalies

Last year, a Florida mom’s letter to her doctor went viral after she exposed how the doctor pressured her to abort her unborn daughter with Down syndrome. Courtney Baker said she wanted her former doctor to see how valuable her daughter Emmy’s life is and how wrong it is to pressure anyone to have an abortion.

Even the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that many women are not receiving adequate counseling about prenatal testing for Down syndrome and other disorders.

The Ohio legislation comes in response to studies which show that approximately 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. 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 nearly 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 babies.

Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, thanked the lawmakers who are making protections for unborn babies a priority.

“The only word for this kind of search-and-destroy mission is eugenics,” Gonidakis said. “History has shown us the dark path of this kind of de-humanization. If diversity, inclusion and compassion mean anything in 21st century America, we will pass this legislation and stand up for our friends with disabilities, born and unborn.”

Ohio Right to Life asks its members to send a letter of support to their state Senators using its Legislative Action Center at Ohiolife.org. Click here to take action now.