Arizona House Committee Passes Bill Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 19, 2021   |   7:07AM   |   Phoenix, Arizona

A pro-life bill that would ban discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome is on its way to the Arizona House for a final vote.

Senate Bill 1457, sponsored by state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, passed the Arizona Senate earlier this month, and, on Wednesday, received approval in a House committee. The vote was 6-4.

If enacted, the bill would make it a crime to abort an unborn baby because he or she was diagnosed with a genetic disorder. Exceptions would be allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. Abortionists who violate the measure could face jail time, but mothers would not be punished. Arizona already prohibits discriminatory abortions because of an unborn baby’s race or sex.

The bill also would prohibit dangerous abortion drugs from being delivered by mail without a woman having an exam or seeing a doctor, and prohibit public schools from referring students for abortions. It would require that the remains of aborted babies be buried or cremated as well.

“What we’re trying to do is protect those that are most vulnerable in the womb,” Barto said, according to Capitol Media Services. “And right now, it’s those with disabilities. They’re being singled out and targeted.”

Research suggests up to 93 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the U.S. are aborted. 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 90 percent in England.

Parents also 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.

The goal of Barto’s bill is to stop this discrimination and protect unborn babies and mothers, but some Democrat lawmakers claimed it would force certain religious views on others.

ACTION ALERT: Contact Arizona House lawmakers to urge support for the legislation.

Here’s more from the local news:

Rep. Melody Hernandez, D-Phoenix, said it’s not that simple. It starts, she said, with the measure adopting the “one specific religious view” into law.

SB 1457 has verbiage to say that an “unborn child at every stage of development (has) all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state.”

Rep. Jacqueline Parker, R-Mesa, disagreed.

“It’s not really a religious issue,” she said. “It’s a scientific issue,” Parker continued. “And we should be allowed to bring up science that supports when life begins even if it’s inconvenient for certain agendas.”

The committee also heard testimony from OB-GYN Dr. Lance Holeman who explained how the bill would protect women through the abortion drug restrictions, according to the report. Holeman said abortion groups that send abortion drugs in the mail to women without requiring an examination first could put her life at risk. He said about 2 percent of pregnancies are ectopic, and a woman with an undetected ectopic pregnancy who takes the drugs could be at risk of death.

The pro-life group Center for Arizona Policy is a leading advocate of the legislation.

“I applaud Senator Nancy Barto for sponsoring this commonsense legislation and the senators who voted for it because preborn babies who happen to have Down syndrome deserve a chance at life, women deserve critical medical attention if they take the abortion pill, and Arizona taxpayers shouldn’t have to subsidize the abortion industry,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the organization.

South Dakota recently passed a similar law to ban discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome.

Abortion discrimination occurs at an alarming rate, and it is getting worse with advances in prenatal testing.

The Telegraph reports about 90 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome in the United Kingdom are aborted. A recent report 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.

ACTION ALERT: Contact Arizona House lawmakers to urge support for the legislation.