Kentucky House Votes to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 27, 2019   |   11:02AM   |   Frankfort, KY

Kentucky lawmakers are working to protect unborn babies from abortion in multiple ways this winter.

On Tuesday, the state House voted 67-25 to ban discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s gender, race or disability, such as Down syndrome, the AP reports. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

Kentucky House Bill 5 would prohibit abortionists from aborting unborn babies if the sole reason is because of the unborn baby’s gender, race or disability. Abortionists who violate the measure could have their licenses revoked and face felony charges.

“We should be strongly communicating that a child should be loved and cared for irrespective of what they look like, how they will behave or their abilities,” said state Rep. Nancy Tate, a co-sponsor of the bill, according to the report.

Tate said aborting an unborn baby with disabilities treats that baby as a “lesser human being.”

However, Democratic state Rep. Maria Sorolis argued that the government should not be involved in abortion decisions, the report states.

“It is easy to tell others how they should live when we do not have to shoulder the burdens that they bear,” Sorolis said. “We do not have to endure their pain and heartache at seeing their children racked with pain every day. We are not sent here to pontificate to others when we have not walked in their shoes.”

Earlier this month, state Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, the sponsor of the bill, said abortion has become a modern method of eugenics, WKYU FM reports.

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“Demanding the right to extinguish or eliminate the life of an unborn child because of their gender, race or possible physical or mental disability is reminiscent of the evil social philosophy of eugenics,” Gibbons Prunty said.

Meanwhile, the ACLU already is considering a legal challenge if the bill becomes law, the Courier Journal reports.

Right now, pro-lifers are watching the U.S. Supreme Court closely as it considers a similar Indiana law that bans discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s race, sex or disability.

One of the groups supporting the Indiana 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.”

Describing the law as a ban on eugenic abortions, ACLJ pointed out that many vulnerable parents are pressured into the “irreversible decision” to abort unborn babies with disabilities.

Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are discriminated against at alarming rates. Parents frequently report feeling pressured 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, but it is difficult to determine the exact number because the government does not keep detailed statistics about abortion.

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.

Also advancing in Kentucky are pro-life bills that would ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable (about six weeks) and another that would ban abortions completely if Roe v. Wade is overturned.