Arkansas AG Asks SCOTUS to Uphold Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 14, 2021   |   10:43AM   |   Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to uphold a state law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome from discrimination.

In a statement Tuesday, Rutledge said her office filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the high court to hear the case and reverse an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the law.

“The Constitution does not require Arkansas to permit discrimination-by-abortion against Americans with Down syndrome,” Rutledge said. “Through my personal friendships, I know that while individuals with Down syndrome may have an extra chromosome, they also have extra love and joy they share unconditionally, and I will not stand by while God’s gifts are exterminated as has been done in other countries.”

At issue is the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Prohibition Act, which passed the state legislature in 2019. The law prohibits abortions on unborn babies when the sole reason is because the unborn baby has or may have Down syndrome.

In January, an Eighth Circuit panel upheld a federal judge’s ruling blocking the law. Their ruling was 3-0, but two of the judges “felt bound by prior decisions that have misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s precedent,” Rutledge’s office noted.

“Although the Eighth Circuit ultimately ruled against Arkansas, two of the three judges agreed with Arkansas that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to discriminatory, selective abortions. These two judges asked the Supreme Court to correct its precedent,” her office wrote.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Eighth Circuit, pointing to past Supreme Court decisions, ruled that a state “may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy” before viability.

The pro-abortion groups challenging the law include Little Rock Family Planning Services, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.

Significantly, just days after Rutledge filed her petition, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a similar law in Ohio. The ruling means there is a circuit court split on the issue, and it is up to the Supreme Court to make a final decision about whether states can ban discriminatory abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome. Pro-life leaders hope the cases will prompt the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortions again.

Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are targeted for abortions at astronomical rates. Many believe sex-selection abortions also occur in the U.S., though data is limited.

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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.

Many parents also feel pressured by doctors and genetic counselors to consider abortion after a prenatal diagnosis. One mom recently told the BBC that she was pressured to abort her unborn daughter 15 times after she was diagnosed with Down syndrome, including right up to the time of her baby’s birth. In another case, a 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.

A recent study highlighted in Scientific American found evidence that families of children with Down syndrome often face negative, biased counseling and pressure to have abortions.

Other states with laws that protect unborn babies with disabilities include Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Indiana. However, most are not in effect because of legal challenges.