Federal Judge Blocks Ohio Ban on Down Syndrome Abortions

Posted: Mar 15, 2018 7:30 AM
Federal Judge Blocks Ohio Ban on Down Syndrome Abortions

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking an Ohio law, signed by Gov. Kasich in December, that would’ve banned abortions performed solely due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The law, which would’ve taken effect March 23, makes performing abortions solely on the basis of Down Syndrome a fourth-degree felony. It also requires the state medical board to revoke a doctor's license if convicted but does not penalize the woman obtaining the procedure.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood sued in February arguing that the law unconstitutionally restricts abortion access.

Judge Black agreed with that argument, saying that the law violates Supreme Court precedent forbidding states from interfering with a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy before viability.

"Here, Ohio's new law wrongfully does just that: it violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face," he wrote.

“The State cannot dictate what factors a woman is permitted to consider in making her choice,” according to Judge Black. “The State’s attempt to carve out exceptions to a categorical right where none exist fails as a matter of law.”

Indiana enacted a similar measure before a judge blocked it. North Dakota banned abortion on the basis of Down syndrome in 2013, that law 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.”