South Dakota Legislature Passes Bill to Ban Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 4, 2021   |   4:36PM   |   Pierre, South Dakota

In a historic moment, the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed a pro-life bill to ban discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome.

The Argus Leader reports the unanimous 35-0 vote in the state Senate happened Wednesday, less than two weeks after the state House also unanimously passed the pro-life bill. The House vote was 68-0.

Introduced by Gov. Kristi Noem, state House Bill 1110 would prohibit abortionists from knowingly aborting an unborn baby because the baby has or may have Down syndrome. Exceptions would be allowed if an abortion is “necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman because her life is endangered by a physical disorder … if no other medical procedure would suffice for that purpose.”

On Thursday during her weekly press conference, Noem celebrated the unanimous passage of the bill. She said it is “good news seeing that kind of agreement on important issues.”

The governor previously said she wants to protect every unborn baby from abortion, but the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits states from doing so under Roe v. Wade.

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Until Roe is overturned, “I am asking the South Dakota legislature to pass a law that bans the abortion of a preborn child, just because that child is diagnosed with Down syndrome,” Noem said in January.

Experts and individuals who testified in favor of the legislation emphasized how unborn babies with Down syndrome frequently are discriminated against in the womb.

During a February hearing, Dr. Tara Sander Lee, a researcher and clinical scientist with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, pointed lawmakers to studies from the U.S. and United Kingdom that found an abortion rate of between 61 percent and 93 percent for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome.

“Destroying the patient is not curative medicine. Today’s rates of abortion in the case of a Down syndrome diagnosis are nothing more than a modern-day form of eugenics,” Lee told the committee.

Others who testified in favor of the legislation included disability rights advocate Katie Shaw who has Down syndrome, according to the Argus Leader.

“Help those with Down syndrome have a chance,” Shaw told lawmakers. “Make the world more wonderful.”

A number of states have passed laws to protect unborn babies from discrimination in recent years. Arkansas, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana are among them, but most of their anti-discrimination laws are being blocked in court.

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. Recent reports in The Atlantic and CBS News found that nearly 100 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in Iceland, 95 percent in Denmark and 77 percent in France.

The deadly discrimination is getting worse with advances in prenatal testing. The Telegraph reports a recent article in the European Journal of Human Genetics found that the number of babies with Down syndrome born in the UK dropped 54 percent since the non-invasive prenatal screening tests became available about a decade ago.

What’s more, parents frequently report feeling pressured to abort unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities. One mom recently told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times, including right up to the moment of her baby’s birth. Another mother from Brooklyn, New York said doctors tried to convince her to abort her unborn son for weeks before they took no for an answer.

Lately, prominent pro-abortion groups, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood, have been arguing openly that abortions are ok for any reason, including discrimination and sex-selection.

EVERY reason to have an abortion is a valid reason,” Colleen McNicholas, a Planned Parenthood abortionist, told the AP in 2019 when Missouri passed a law that bans abortions based on the unborn baby’s sex or a Down syndrome diagnosis.