Federal Court Upholds Missouri Law Banning Abortions on Babies With Down Syndrome

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 13, 2022   |   8:12PM   |   Jefferson City, Missouri

A Missouri law that protects unborn babies with Down syndrome from discrimination is now in effect as the result of a federal appeals court ruling Friday.

According to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out two district court rulings that blocked the law, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

That means the state may begin enforcing the pro-life law, which bans abortions based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

“This was expected in light of the Dobbs decision, but it is very welcome, nonetheless,” Samuel H. Lee of Campaign Life Missouri said in an email to LifeNews.com. “Pro-abortion critics said HB 126 was unconstitutional, but the latest ruling … demonstrates that persistence by pro-life lawmakers, lawyers and activists can end lethal discrimination of children in the womb.”

The Down syndrome measure is part of a larger pro-life law, state House Bill 126, which protects unborn babies by banning abortions in almost all cases. As a result of the ruling Friday, Lee said all provisions of that 2019 law are now in effect.

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Attorney General Schmitt, whose son has a disability and is non-verbal, has been a strong advocate for the pro-life law. In a statement Monday, he celebrated the ruling as a victory for life.

“Individuals with Down syndrome bring joy, love and light to those around them and society as a whole. They are daughters and sons, sisters and brothers and friends,” Schmitt said. “A pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis should not be a death sentence, and because of our efforts, it no longer is.”

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion chain, and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law in court, arguing that it violated Roe v. Wade.

However, on June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe in a historic victory for life. Now, Missouri and about a dozen other states are protecting unborn babies from abortion again.

Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other disabilities are targeted for abortions. In some countries, abortion rates after a prenatal diagnosis are as high as 100 percent, and many parents feel pressured by doctors and genetic counselors to abort their unborn babies.

According to state health statistics, 1,471 abortions were done in 2019 in Missouri. It is not clear how many were done because of Down syndrome.

However, when U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs blocked the state from enforcing the law in September 2019, information cited in his ruling suggests that unborn babies with Down syndrome were being targeted for abortions in Missouri. According to evidence presented by Planned Parenthood, abortionist Colleen McNicholas “specifically recalls that three patients she treated in the last 12 months had received ‘a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome.’”

In 2019, McNicholas criticized the law, telling the AP that “EVERY reason to have an abortion is a valid reason.”

Research indicates that unborn babies with Down syndrome are targeted for abortions at astronomical rates. The abortion rate for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome is nearly 100 percent in Iceland, according to CBS News. Estimates put the rate at 77 percent in France and 67 percent in the United States, though some estimate it may be as high as 90 percent.

Missouri and eight other states also prohibit sex-selection abortions, which often target unborn baby girls.