Several national pro-abortion groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn an Arizona law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome and other genetic disorders from discriminatory abortions.
According to the AP, the Center for Reproductive Rights and American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the law on behalf of two abortionists in the state. They want a federal judge to block the law before it goes into effect on Sept. 29.
The law, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed in April, prohibits abortionists from knowingly aborting an unborn baby because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome or another genetic abnormality. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk.
Arizona already prohibits discriminatory abortions based on an unborn baby’s race or sex.
Cathi Herrod, president of the pro-life Center for Arizona Progress, told the AP that she believes the new law will be upheld as constitutional.
“As a society, within our laws we do not discriminate on born individuals due to genetic conditions, neither should we discriminate against unborn children solely because of genetic conditions,” Herrod said.
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But Emily Nestler, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the law violates women’s constitutional right to an abortion.
“… and that right does not take into account your reason for having an abortion,” Nestler said. “Politicians should not get to interrogate people’s reasons for seeking an abortion.”
The pro-abortion groups said the law would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship as well by discouraging communication about reasons for the abortion. They also said the penalties in the law will make doctors fearful of doing abortions when they suspect a genetic disorder may be the reason, according to the report.
The National Council of Jewish Women, the National Organization for Women and the Arizona Medical Association also are involved in the lawsuit.
Arizona is one of many states that has passed or tried to pass laws to protect unborn babies from discriminatory abortions based on certain traits, such as a disability, sex or race.
Most state laws are being challenged in court, but pro-lifers have won several victories recently. In April, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Ohio law that prohibits abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome. Then in July, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an en banc rehearing of a ruling against a similar law in Missouri.
Previously, an Eighth Circuit panel ruled against another Down syndrome abortion ban in Arkansas, and the Seventh Circuit ruled against a similar Indiana law in 2018.
State attorneys general in Arkansas and Missouri are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the matter and clarify if states may protect unborn babies from discriminatory abortions.
This discrimination is a growing problem. 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 their unborn babies after a disability diagnosis. 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.
Abortion discrimination occurs at an alarming rate, and it is getting worse with advances in prenatal testing. According to The Telegraph, a recent report in the European Journal of Human Genetics found that the number of babies with Down syndrome born in the United Kingdom dropped 54 percent since the non-invasive prenatal screening tests became available about a decade ago.