22 States Ask Supreme Court to Uphold Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 13, 2021   |   4:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch led 22 states Thursday in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold an Arkansas law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortion.

In an amicus brief, Fitch asked the high court to hear the case and allow states to end discriminatory abortions, WJTV News 12 reports.

“All children are created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose, and those in the disability community are a beacon of light, joy and hope radiating throughout the world,” Fitch said. “A pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis should not be a death sentence. I will always fight to protect our children, especially those who cannot fight for themselves.”

In 2019, Arkansas passed a law to prohibit abortions on unborn babies when the sole reason is because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The Family Council of Arkansas estimated that the law could save at least 100 unborn babies in the state every year. However, the courts have blocked Arkansas from enforcing the law.

In April, Rutledge’s office filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case and reverse an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the law.

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Fitch and 21 other state attorneys general joined her in that plea Thursday, arguing that states have a compelling interest in protecting people with Down syndrome from “being targeted for elimination solely because of disability.”

The other state attorneys general who support the law represent Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, according to WJTV.

Together, they said upholding the law would allow states to protect “against the devaluation of all human life inherent in any decision to target a person for elimination based on an immutable characteristic.”

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 on the constitutionality of such laws. 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.

“This is an opportunity for Arkansas Attorney General Rutledge and her team to win a big, pro-life victory in court that could help save the lives of unborn children in Arkansas and across the nation,” the Family Council of Arkansas said in a statement on its website.

Discriminatory, eugenic abortions have become of increasing concern with the increased availability of prenatal genetic testing. Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are targeted for abortions at astronomical rates. Many believe sex-selection abortions also occurin the U.S., though data is limited.

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. Several states also have laws that prohibit sex-selection abortions.


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