Mississippi House Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 23, 2020   |   5:02PM   |   Jackson, MS

The Mississippi House approved a pro-life bill Tuesday to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities from discrimination.

WJTV reports the Life Equality Act (House Bill 1295) is on its way to pro-life Republican Gov. Tate Reeves after it passed by a strong majority. The vote was 91-25, according to the AP.

The legislation prohibits abortions because of the unborn baby’s race, sex or genetic abnormality. It includes penalties and potential jail time for abortionists who violate the ban. The state Senate passed the legislation last week.

“We are simply saying all these rights that have been won over the years in the area of racism or sexism should be applied to the unborn in Mississippi,” said state Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Covington, one of the lead advocates of the bill.

Earlier this spring, Mika Hartman and her son Hudson, who has Down syndrome, urged lawmakers to support the pro-life legislation. Hartman said she was pressured to abort her son because of his disability, but today he is a happy, healthy toddler.

A recent poll found that 65% of Americans, including 50% who identify as pro-choice, oppose discrimination abortions because an unborn baby has Down syndrome.

Mississippi doctors also support the bill. Dr. Freda Bush, a retired OB-GYN, praised lawmakers for working to end discrimination in medicine.

“Tragically, one place where discrimination is still widespread is inside the womb, where babies can be targeted for abortion for reasons our society wouldn’t accept anywhere else,” she wrote in a recent editorial at the Clarion Ledger. “Currently in Mississippi, it is legal to have an abortion if the family prefers a boy over a girl. Our state also allows abortion on the basis of race or genetic condition. The Life Equality Act is our state’s effort to end these lethal disparities.”

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She said abortion is not the answer to a genetic disorder or disability, and, in her 30 years of medical practice, she never recommended it. Bush said perinatal hospice programs provide much-needed support for parents of an unborn baby diagnosed with a fatal disorder.

“In learning to better serve and treat all types of patients, we must never eliminate the patient,” Bush wrote.

The Susan B. Anthony List also praised lawmakers for passing the bill.

“We are pleased to see the Life Equality Act advance one step closer to becoming law, thanks to the strong leadership of our pro-life allies in the Mississippi legislature,” said SBA List State Policy Director Sue Liebel. “Mississippi is a solidly pro-life state that understands abortions carried out because of a baby’s sex, race, or potential disability, such as Down syndrome, is no less than modern-day eugenics. Mississippians agree unborn children should be protected from this lethal discrimination.”

For years, the Mississippi legislature has been working hard to protect unborn babies from abortion. In 2018, it passed a bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks when unborn babies are nearly fully developed, and then in 2019, it passed another bill to ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. However, the abortion industry challenged both in court, and the state has been prohibited from enforcing the life-saving laws.

Pro-abortion groups likely will sue to block the new anti-discrimination legislation as well. Last year, Planned Parenthood of St. Louis chief medical officer Colleen McNicholas told the AP that “EVERY reason to have an abortion is a valid reason,” including for sex-selection and disabilities like Down syndrome.