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

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 14, 2019   |   9:47AM   |   Frankfort, KY

Kentucky lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday to protect unborn babies from discrimination based on their sex, race or a disability such as Down syndrome.

Kentucky House Bill 5 passed the state Senate by an overwhelming majority; the vote was 32-4, the AP reports. It passed the state House in February, and now moves to pro-life Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk.

The bill 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.

Immediately afterward, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky announced plans to file a lawsuit against it.

“Bring it!” the governor responded on Twitter. “Kentucky will always fight for life.”

Bevin said he is proud that their state is leading the fight to ensure that the lives of the most vulnerable are protected.

But abortion activists are determined to stop the law before it goes into effect. The ACLU plans to sue on behalf of the only abortion facility in the state, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville.

“Decisions about whether to end a pregnancy must be made by the woman and her family. But this law takes the decision away from them and hands it over to politicians,” said ACLU deputy director Brigitte Amiri in a statement. “We see this legislation for exactly what it is — part of a campaign to prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion if she needs one — and we won’t stand for it.”

Pro-life lawmakers contended that women do not need to abort an unborn baby simply because she is a girl or because he or she has a disability such as Down syndrome. State Rep. Nancy Tate, a co-sponsor of the bill, said these discriminatory abortions treat babies as “lesser human beings.”

“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,” she said, previously.

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

“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.

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.