On Friday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that prohibits doctors from performing abortions on infants prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The bill, referred to as the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act,” made its final passage through the state legislature on December 13, moving on to the governor’s desk to be officially signed.
According to Cleveland.com:
Under the law, doctors who know of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis and perform an abortion could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison. There is no punishment for the woman who seeks the abortion.
Additionally, according to the Associated Press, the law “requires the state medical board to revoke the physician’s license if convicted.”
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, released an official statement praising the law and thanking Governor Kasich:
Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life. Ohio is and will continue to be a state that sees the lives of people with Down syndrome as lives worth living, thanks to this legislation.
… Ohio Right to Life is immensely grateful to pro-life Governor John Kasich and his administration for how they have protected the unborn. Gov. Kasich has signed 20 pro-life initiatives into law in the last six years. He is a pro-life champion, and we are thankful for how he has made it clear that we will not permit this kind of discrimination against people with Down syndrome.
Ohio joins North Dakota and Indiana by signing such legislation into law. However, as the Associated Press notes, a federal judge has blocked Indiana’s version of the law.
Unsurprisingly, pro-abortion activists are challenging the constitutionality of Ohio’s legislation, as well as claiming that it’s simply a ploy to restrict all abortion.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, released a statement about the legislation:
When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome during her pregnancy, the last thing she needs is Governor Kasich barging in to tell her what’s best for her family. This law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face. This law does nothing to support families taking care of loved ones with Down syndrome, instead it exploits them as part of a larger anti-choice strategy to systematically make all abortion care illegal.
The radical and barbaric practice of terminating infants prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome may seem like something in which developed, humane societies would not participate, but it’s actually rather common in some European countries.
In the U.K., approximately 90% of infants prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated, according to the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register (NDSCR). In Iceland, nearly 100% of women whose unborn children test positive for Down syndrome choose abortion. In Denmark, the figure is approximately 98%; in France, 77%. Even in the United States, it’s estimated that approximately 67% of infants prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are terminated, according to CBS News.