A new poll found strong public support for the rights of unborn babies with Down syndrome this week as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case on the issue.
More than six in 10 Americans (62 percent) oppose abortions in cases of Down syndrome, according to a new national poll conducted by Marist University. The poll also found strong opposition to late-term abortions, including among Democrats and those who identify as “pro-choice.”
Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities often are targeted for abortions. Parents of unborn babies with disabilities frequently report feeling pressure to have abortions by doctors and genetic counselors.
The number of abortions 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, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the U.S. does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.
Indiana attempted to crack down on this discriminatory practice in 2016 with a law to end eugenic abortions. But the abortion giant Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union sued.
Now, it is before the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Indiana Department of Health vs. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, was on the justices’ conference schedule twice this month, but they have not announced a decision about taking the case yet.
The Indiana Lawyer reports a decision could happen Friday. The case recently was relisted on the justices’ schedule for this Friday, Jan. 18.
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“The court has provided no explanation as to why the Indiana petition is again on the conference agenda,” according to the report.
Coincidentally, Friday is the same day as the March for Life in Washington, D.C. when hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers are expected to march peacefully against abortion.
The case involves a 2016 Indiana law that prohibits discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s disability, gender or race. It also requires that aborted babies’ bodies be buried or cremated.
A court order, upheld by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in July, prohibits Indiana from enforcing the law.
Indiana leaders, along with attorneys general in 19 other states, recently asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. In an amicus brief filed in November, 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.
Several pro-life and disability rights groups also filed friend-of-the-court briefs in November in support of the law.
However, 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 Supreme Court accepts the case, there is hope that the law will be upheld. With Justice Brett Kavanaugh recently confirmed, the new conservative majority court may decide cases in a pro-life manner. Kavanaugh’s predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy, rarely ruled in favor of life.
One of the groups supporting the law, the American Center for Law and Justice, urged the high court to hear the case on behalf of 44 families of children with disabilities.
“Indiana’s law protects children like theirs and recognizes that unborn children deserve protection from invidious discrimination,” the legal group wrote in its brief. “Though many of these families ultimately lost their children, these parents do not consider that to have diminished the importance of the children’s lives.”
Calling the law a ban on eugenic abortions, ACLJ pointed out that many vulnerable parents are pressured into the “irreversible decision” to abort unborn babies with disabilities.