Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a petition Thursday urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome from discrimination.
The Missouri Independent reports Schmitt is fighting to defend a 2019 pro-life law that includes a variety of measures to protect unborn babies from abortion.
The Missouri Stands For the Unborn Act prohibits abortions after eight weeks, once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. However, it also includes incremental stages to ban abortions after 14 weeks, 18 weeks or 20 weeks if the earlier bans are overturned in court. In addition, it requires that both parents be notified before an underage girl has an abortion. The law also bans discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s sex, race or Down syndrome diagnosis and bans abortions completely once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit soon after the law passed, and the courts have refused to allow Missouri to enforce it.
Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, said his son, Stephen, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, is one of the reasons why he believes so strongly in the law.
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“My son Stephen has shown me the inherent beauty in life, and he brings immense joy and love to his loved ones and those around him,” he said in a statement. “Since taking office, I’ve fought to protect all life, including the unborn. A pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome should not be a death sentence.”
Schmitt urged the Supreme Court to grant his petition for writ of certiorari and resolve a circuit court split about whether states may prohibit eugenic abortions that discriminate against unborn babies because of a disability.
The Sixth Circuit upheld a similar law in Ohio in April, but the Eighth Circuit ruled against another Down syndrome abortion ban in Arkansas in January. The Seventh Circuit also ruled against an Indiana law in 2018. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge recently filed a similar petition to the Supreme Court asking it to rule on the matter.
Involving the Missouri law, an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals panel decided in June that the law likely would be found unconstitutional. It also refused to lift a lower court ruling blocking its enforcement, prompting Schmitt to appeal.
“Unborn children with Down syndrome are aborted at epidemic rates,” his petition tells the Supreme Court. “In the face of this genocidal crisis, Missouri and at least 11 other states have enacted laws restricting the eugenic abortion of the disabled, especially those with Down syndrome. In 2019, this Court declined to review the Seventh Circuit’s decision invalidating one of these laws—Indiana’s—because no circuit split yet existed. Since then, a clear and well-developed split of authority has emerged.”
Samuel H. Lee of Campaign Life Missouri praised the attorney general for taking a bold step for life.
“… boldness is needed because the lives of countless unborn babies are at stake,” Lee responded to the news in an email. “The prayers of the whole pro-life community are with him and his legal team in their efforts to protect the sanctity of human life and to end this nearly 50-year nightmare of abortion on demand in America.”
According to Missouri health statistics, 1,471 abortions were done in 2019 in the state.
Unborn babies with Down syndrome especially are targeted for abortions, with abortion rates as high as 100 percent in some countries after a prenatal diagnosis.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion through Roe v. Wade, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
However, the court recently agreed to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. The Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization focuses on the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” The court is scheduled to hear the case during its next term, likely in the fall.