Ohio House Passes Bill to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 1, 2017   |   3:59PM   |   Columbus, OH

The Ohio state House approved a bill Wednesday to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortion.

The House passed Ohio House Bill 214 on Wednesday as pro-life advocates urged lawmakers to protect unborn babies with disabilities from discriminatory abortions. It now moves to the full House for a vote. The bill passed overwhelmingly 63-30.

The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act (Ohio House Bill 214) would help prevent discrimination by prohibiting abortions on unborn babies who have or may have Down syndrome. Abortionists who violate the measure could be charged with a fourth-degree felony or lose their medical license.

State Rep. Sarah LaTourette, a pro-life Republican who sponsored the bill, said the abortion statistics for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are staggering.

“When we hear the statistic that 90 percent of women chose abortion because of this potential diagnosis, there’s an obvious problem there,” LaTourette said.

“I continue to say that this bill is about so much more than abortion,” she continued. “I truly believe that it’s about discriminating against some of our most vulnerable, discriminating against an unborn child simply because they might have a Down Syndrome diagnosis. That’s something that I find absolutely unacceptable.”

The head of a state pro-life group told LifeNews he’s delighted by the news.

“Ohio Right to Life commends the Ohio House for taking a stand against this devastating practice,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “Today’s vote is a vote against modern-day eugenics, plain and simple. After seeing the horrors of eugenics play out in the 20th century, it is appalling that this legislation is even up for debate. While aborting a human child is always wrong, we should all agree that there is something particularly egregious about targeting babies with disabilities for destruction.”

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Since June, multiple Down syndrome advocates have testified before House and Senate committees in favor of the legislation. Around the world and here in America, unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are disproportionately aborted. Recent news reports have revealed these alarming trends in European countries like Denmark where 98 percent of babies with a positive diagnosis are aborted and in Iceland where virtually 100 percent are aborted. Last week, advocate Frank Stephens, who has Down syndrome, testified before Congress, referencing such reports and saying, “I am a man with Down syndrome, and my life is worth living.”

“These disturbing trends challenge us with the opportunity to be better,” said Gonidakis. “With this knowledge, we have an obligation to protect our friends with Down syndrome, not only because they can teach us to be a more loving and empathetic society, but because they, like all of us, are endowed with the fundamental right to life. With this legislation, Ohio is paving the way for a society that stands up to discrimination and defends the most vulnerable among us.”

However, abortion activists are fighting heavily against the legislation.

Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the government should never get involved in a woman’s abortion decision, no matter what her reason is.

“It’s not our place to judge a woman and her decision on whether or not to continue a pregnancy for whatever reason it is,” the pro-abortion leader said. “It is that woman’s decision to make alone, and nobody in this building or anywhere else should be making that decision for someone else.”

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.

H.B. 214 has companion legislation (S.B. 164) in the Ohio Senate. The bill is sponsored by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and has already received three hearings.