19 States Want Supreme Court to Uphold Pro-Life Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

National   Micaiah Bilger   Nov 20, 2018   |   10:56AM    Washington, DC

Attorneys general in 19 states asked the U.S. Supreme Court this month to uphold an Indiana law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities from discrimination.

The 2016 law prohibits discriminatory abortions based on the unborn baby’s disability, gender or race. Vice President Mike Pence, who was the governor of Indiana at the time, signed the law, but the abortion giant Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in court.

In an amicus brief filed this month, the attorneys general argued that states should have the right to prohibit discrimination against all human beings, including those not yet born, the News and Sentinel reports.

“The Constitution gives every state the inherent authority to protect life,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “That authority extends to enacting laws that prohibit abortion from being used as a tool to eliminate any particular segment of the population. Every American, regardless of their biological sex, race or disability, has a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A court order, upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in July, prohibits Indiana from enforcing the law, but Indiana is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The 19 state leaders joined Indiana in asking the high court to overturn that ruling and allow Indiana to end discrimination, according to the report.

The states that signed the brief were: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.

Several pro-life and disability rights groups also filed friend-of-the-court briefs this month in support of the law.

If enacted, the law would ban abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a disability such as Down syndrome, the unborn baby’s race or sex. It also requires that aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies be cremated or buried.

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Indiana was the second state to establish a safeguard to protect unborn children with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Eight states also prohibit sex-selection abortions prior to viability.

Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit, Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, has been moving through the courts for years. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision to block the pro-life law earlier this year, after a federal judge ruled against it in 2017.

Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU Indiana chapter, which represents Planned Parenthood in the lawsuit, has claimed a woman alone should be allowed to decide whether to abort an unborn baby, and her reasons for the abortion should not matter.

“[The law] ignores long-settled precedent from the Supreme Court that a woman, not the Legislature, gets to decide whether an abortion is the right decision for her and her family,” Falk said, previously. “The state’s request (for Supreme Court review) is yet another attempt by Indiana elected officials to take that decision out of a woman’s hands.”

If the case is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court, there is hope that the law will be upheld. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh recently confirmed, the now conservative majority court may decide cases in a pro-life manner. Kavanaugh’s predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, rarely ruled in favor of life.

Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are discriminated against at alarming rates. Parents whose unborn babies have disabilities frequently report feeling pressure to abort them by doctors and genetic counselors.

The rate of unborn babies who are aborted after a Down syndrome diagnosis is about 67 percent in the U.S., according to CBS News. Some put the rate as high as 90 percent in the United States, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.