Arkansas Senate lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday to protect unborn babies from discrimination based on a prenatal test showing Down syndrome.
The bill would prohibit abortionists from aborting unborn babies if the sole reason is because of the unborn baby’s disability. Abortionists who violate the measure could have their licenses revoked and face felony charges.
The Arkansas Senate has approved a measure prohibiting doctors from performing abortions because of a Down syndrome diagnosis, the latest restriction on the procedure that’s advancing in the majority-Republican Legislature.
The Senate on Wednesday approved by a 29-2 vote the bill, which prohibits doctors from performing abortions if they know the procedure is being sought solely because of the diagnosis. The measure now heads to the House.
Senate Bill 2 was sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, which would, according to one report, “would require a doctor to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she is aware of any test results, prenatal diagnosis or any other reason that the unborn child may have Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes developmental challenges and abnormal physical features.”
If the woman answers yes to the questions, then the doctor must request the medical records relating directly to her entire pregnancy history.
A doctor who attempts or goes ahead with the abortion would have his medical license revoked and would be guilty of a Class D felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
“I brought this bill because I wanted to make sure that those who have this diagnosis, those who could live this full and fulfilling life, those we see who for every single day bring joy not only to their families, but to members of their community and this state, have a chance to live,” Garner said.
Before Garner presented SB2, the Senate approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 by Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, to designate today as “World Down Syndrome Day” in Arkansas.
Davis stood before the group holding her 7-month-old daughter, who was born with Down syndrome.
“While receiving a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis for my daughter, while it was one of the scariest things in my life, what Everly has shown our family over the last seven months is …,” Davis stopped as she choked back tears, “… that while she has Down syndrome, there is absolutely nothing down about it.”
Legislators condemned the fact that most babies in the United States diagnosed with Down syndrome are killed in abortions.
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.