The Ohio Senate passed the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act Wednesday which prohibits abortion based solely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome. The Ohio House passed identical legislation two weeks ago and either the House or Senate must now pass the other chamber’s bill to advance it to Gov. Kasich’s desk.
The bill passed in a 20-12 vote and would make performing abortions solely on the basis of Down Syndrome a fourth-degree felony. It requires the state medical board to revoke a doctor's license if convicted.
Ohio Right to Life praised the move, characterizing abortion based on a Down syndrome diagnosis as eugenics.
“Ohio Right to Life thanks our pro-life senators for taking a stand against the modern-day eugenic practice of aborting babies with Down syndrome,” Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said. “We are continuously encouraged by how Ohio is on the forefront of protecting the unborn. All Ohioans regardless of the gender, skin color or disability deserve the right to live out their God-given potential and purpose.”
“There is a reason that 99% of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives,” Gonidakis added. “They live joyfully, in a way that is contagious to others. We are happy that the Ohio Senate recognizes their lives as worth living.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio called the measure “immoral” arguing that it’s the woman’s decision, even if it’s based on a Down syndrome diagnosis.
"It is not our place to judge or decide for any woman what she should do, or prevent her from having honest conversations about her options with her physician—especially following a complicated medical diagnosis,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said. “This legislation criminalizes those important conversations and callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround each woman’s pregnancy. This abortion ban is both immoral and unconstitutional.”
Unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted at high rates globally. According to CBS, the United States has an estimated abortion rate of 67 percent (1995-2011) for unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. Iceland has a nearly 100 percent termination rate following diagnosis.
These numbers even caused one human rights group to appeal to the United Nations, calling the high abortion rates a “contemporary form of eugenics and racism.”