Court Blocks Indiana Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 20, 2018   |   10:28AM   |   Indianapolis, IN

Discrimination against unborn babies with Down syndrome will be allowed to continue in Indiana after a court blocked a state law Thursday that prohibits abortions on babies with disabilities.

The Indy Star reports a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Thursday with a lower court decision to block the 2016 law.

Then-Gov. Mike Pence signed the law in 2016 to protect unborn babies from being aborted simply because of a disability, race or sex. The law bans abortionists from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a genetic disability such as Down syndrome, the unborn baby’s race or sex. The law also requires that aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies be cremated or buried and that abortionists who have hospital admitting privileges renew them annually.

However, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU challenged the law, and a federal judge blocked it in 2017.

On Thursday, Seventh Circuit Judge William J. Bauer issued an opinion in agreement with liberal Judge Tonya Walton Pratt’s ruling. Pratt was appointed by pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

“The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability, and that the State may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason,” Bauer wrote.

“Nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment or Supreme Court precedent allows the State to invade this privacy realm to examine the underlying basis for a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy prior to viability,” he continued.

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has not yet commented on the ruling. In September, he defended the law in a statement to the IndyStar.

“By declaring unconstitutional a state law that would bar abortions based solely on race, sex or disability such as Down syndrome, a federal judge has cleared the path for genetic discrimination that once seemed like science fiction,” Hill said. “This state has a compelling interest in protecting the dignity of the unborn and in ensuring they are not selected for termination simply because they lack preferred physical characteristics.”

Here’s more from Reuters:

By a 2-1 vote, the appeals court also struck down a separate provision essentially requiring abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetuses in the same manner as human remains.

Circuit Judge Daniel Manion dissented from that part of the decision, calling the disposal requirement “a legitimate exercise of Indiana’s police power.”

When Pratt blocked the law in 2017, Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said the ruling would be devastating to children with disabilities.

He said Indiana’s largest abortion company, Planned Parenthood, will continue to be able to abort unborn children for the sole reason of the child’s sex, race, national origin or a potential disability like Down syndrome. Indiana abortion providers also will continue to treat the remains of unborn children as common medical waste.

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“We are deeply disappointed that Planned Parenthood can discriminate against unborn children and target them for abortion,” Fichter said at the time. “It’s a shame that Planned Parenthood cares more about their bottom line than recognizing the worth of children with Down syndrome. No one should be targeted for abortion solely because of their sex, race, national origin or a potential disability like Down syndrome.”

In 2013, North Dakota became the first state to pass a similar bill to protect unborn babies from abortions because of disabilities. Louisiana and Ohio also prohibit abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome, and Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a similar bill this spring.

A handful of states also ban abortions based solely on the baby’s sex.

A recent CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory abortion trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011, according to CBS.

Some put the rate as high as 90 percent in the United States, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the U.S. government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.