The Ohio legislature sent the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act to Gov. John Kasich’s (R) desk Wednesday. The bill would prohibit abortion based solely on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
The legislation 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 but does not penalize the woman obtaining the procedure.
Gov. Kasich told CNN’s Jake Tapper In a 2015 interview that he would sign the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act.
"I'm more than glad to say that, of course, I would sign that," said Kasich after former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose son has Down syndrome, told Tapper that Kasich should take a stance on the bill.
“Ohio Right to Life is grateful that our pro-life legislators took a stand against discrimination and abortion,” Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life said of the bill. “Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality. We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”
“A prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome should not mean a death sentence,” Gonidakis emphasized. “Thanks to our pro-life legislators, we are one step closer to ensuring that Ohioans with Down syndrome are recognized as humans worthy of dignity, just as they are.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the abortion advocacy group NARAL were not pleased with the measure and are urging Kasich to veto it.
"This bill does nothing to improve the lives of people with disabilities, nor increase their access to health care or other services, nor does it educate a woman and her family about having a child with a disability," ACLU lobbyist Gary Daniels claimed. "It only further restricts a woman's ability to make a decision about ending a pregnancy."
"This bill prevents a woman from having honest conversations about her options with her physician following a complicated medical diagnosis," Kellie Copeland, head of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said. "This legislation callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround each woman's pregnancy."
Ohio is the third state to pass legislation aimed at addressing the high rate of abortion for unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome. Indiana enacted a similar measure before a judge blocked it, an appeal is pending. North Dakota banned abortion on the basis of Down syndrome in 2013, it has gone unchallenged likely due to the fact that the state’s only abortion clinic does not perform abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted at high rates globally. According to a CBS report, 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.
The high numbers even caused one human rights group to appeal to the United Nations, calling the abortion rates a “contemporary form of eugenics and racism.”