Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Signs Bill to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 20, 2019   |   10:11AM   |   Frankfort, KY

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a second pro-life bill into law this month, this one to protect unborn babies who are targeted because of their sex, race or a disability such as Down syndrome.

The law took effect immediately after Bevin signed it on Tuesday, the AP reports. However, the American Civil Liberties Union and EMW Women’s Center, the only abortion facility in Kentucky, already have filed a lawsuit to block the law.

The law passed the state Senate earlier this month by an overwhelming majority; it passed the state House in February. It prohibits 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.

Responding to the lawsuit, Bevin’s legal team said the ACLU is arguing in favor of discrimination and eugenics.

“EMW and its abortionists have responded with a novel claim: Women have a constitutional right to undergo race-based abortions, gender-based abortions, and disability-based abortions,” they said. “In (the) plaintiffs’ view, somewhere in the Fourteenth Amendment’s penumbra lies a secret protection of eugenics.”

Bevin also criticized the ACLU for its eagerness to defend abortion by filing a lawsuit before the bill even became law. He encouraged the legal group to watch an old “Schoolhouse Rock” video that explains how bills become law.

“People that are supposedly defending the civic rights of people in this country nonetheless think it’s appropriate that you can kill a child based on its race or kill a child based on its gender,” Bevin wrote Friday on Twitter. “The people in Kentucky … fortunately don’t agree with that.”

The ACLU, however, called the law a “thinly veiled effort” to ban abortions.

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“The passage of House Bill 5 represents a thinly veiled effort of the Kentucky General Assembly to advance their anti-abortion agenda under the guise of an anti-discrimination bill. This law will do nothing to improve the lives of Kentuckians with disabilities,” said staff attorney at the Kentucky ACLU Heather Gatnarek, according to Cincinnati Public Radio.

Earlier this month, Bevin also signed a law to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. A judge quickly blocked it upon the request of the ACLU.

Pro-life lawmakers argued that women do not need to abort an unborn baby simply because she is a girl or because he or she has Down syndrome. 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.