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

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 13, 2017   |   4:24PM   |   Columbia, SC

An Ohio bill to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortion passed the state legislature Wednesday, a move that places the measure on the governor’s desk. The measure bans abortions on babies with Down syndrome.

The Ohio Senate voted 20 to 12 to pass the legislation. The Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act (Senate Bill 164) 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.

The state House passed a similar bill a s well. The legislation was sponsored by Reps. Sarah LaTourette and Derek Merrin and Sen. Frank LaRose.

“Ohio Right to Life is grateful that our pro-life legislators took a stand against discrimination and abortion,” said Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life. “Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality. We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”

In the last 6 years, Ohio Right to Life has seen 19 pro-life initiatives passed into law by Gov. John Kasich. In a 2015 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, when asked if he would sign the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act, Gov. Kasich said “I’m more than glad to say that of course I would sign it.”

“A prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome should not mean a death sentence,” said Gonidakis. “Thanks to our pro-life legislators, we are one step closer to ensuring that Ohioans with Down syndrome are recognized as humans worthy of dignity, just as they are.”

Larry and Jackie Keough, whose daughter has Down syndrome, testified in favor of the bill before a committee vote.

“We ask each of you to support SB 164 that would stop the genocidal practice of aborting unborn children with Down syndrome,” Jackie Keough said. “By doing so, this can be a critical step to eliminate abortion based on individual genetic make up.”

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Abortion activists are fighting against the legislation. In October, the radical pro-abortion group NARAL gave Ohio lawmakers a petition with 2,000 signatures in opposition to the bill.

Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the government never should 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.

But state Rep. Sarah LaTourette, a pro-life Republican who sponsored the House version of the bill, said the abortion statistics for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are staggering, according to the Toledo Blade.

“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.”

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.

One of the key advocates of the Ohio bill is Kelly Kuhns, a Plain City 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.”

Today, 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.