Mississippi Governor Signs Pro-Life Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 2, 2020   |   9:50AM   |   Jackson, MS

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a pro-life law Wednesday to protect unborn babies from being discriminated against because of their sex, race or a disability, such as Down syndrome, WLBT News reports.

The Life Equality Act (House Bill 1295) 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 anti-discrimination law passed the state legislature by a strong majority in June. Now, Mississippi joins nine other states that prohibit sex-selection abortions and two that ban abortions based on the unborn baby’s race or disability, according to the report.

Pro-life leaders praised Reeves and state lawmakers for protecting unborn babies.

“The Life Equality Act sends a clear message that abortion should not be used to discriminate against women and children, regardless of race, sex or genetic condition,” said Dr. Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy with the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Denise Burke also thanked state leaders for expanding anti-discrimination protections to children in the womb.

“Every innocent life is worthy of protection, and no one should be discriminated against because of his or her race, sex, disability, or genetic makeup,” Burke said. “Children shouldn’t have to pass a genetic test to earn the right to be born.”

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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 Marist 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.”

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.

For years, the Mississippi legislature has been trying 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.

If upheld, these laws could protect thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year. Unborn babies with Down syndrome are targeted for abortions at astronomical rates. Many believe sex-selection abortions also occur in the U.S., though data is limited.

A CBS News report shocked the nation with its exposure of the discriminatory abortion trend. According to the report, nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland. The rate in France was 77 percent in 2015, 90 percent in the United Kingdom and 67 percent in the United States between 1995 and 2011, according to CBS.

North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana also passed laws to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from discriminatory abortions. However, in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to lift a block on the Indiana law. A judge also recently blocked the Missouri law.