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This Ohio bill would ban abortion for fetuses with Down Syndrome

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As the debate over abortion continues nationwide, legislators in Ohio are working to ban abortions in cases where Down Syndrome has been detected in a fetus.  

The Ohio Legislature will soon vote on two bills aiming to ban abortion when signs of Down Syndrome have been detected in the fetus.

Senate Bill 164 and House Bill 214 would prevent a person from performing or attempting to perform an abortion in pregnancies where the child has a high possibility of being born with Down Syndrome. Physicians who violate the bills risk losing their medical licenses in Ohio.

The bills state that the goal is to “prohibit a person from performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion because an unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome.”

Sen. Frank LaRose (R) from the Akron area is sponsoring the bill. In a previous interview with Fox 8 Cleveland, he said, “To terminate a pregnancy for that reason alone is something that is problematic. It’s really concerning that some people value the lives of our fellow Ohioans with Down (Syndrome) less than others.”

Although selective gender abortions are banned in multiple states, Down Syndrome abortions have received less attention. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome. A 2012 report says that the rate of termination after a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis is 67 to 85 percent, depending on factors such as the mother’s age and race.  

Despite the seemingly positive outlook the bill gives regarding disability rights and acceptance, many people still express concerns. Former State Sen. from Cleveland Nina Turner, who visited Ohio University this week, commented on the proposed bill.

“This is a choice between a woman, her God and her doctor,” Turner said.

“We have no right to legislate that decision.” She went on to say that she believes abortions should always be “safe, legal and rare.”  

Some pro-choice advocates claim the bill will put women’s reproductive rights at risk. Kellie Copeland, the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, has expressed concerns that the bill is yet another attempt to regulate abortion with the ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade.

Ohio law already places multiple restrictions on abortion. The 24-Hour Informed Consent Law requires women receive information at least 24 hours before an abortion in a face-to-face meeting with a doctor.

The Affordable Care Act only covers abortions in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest.

The state also enforces the Ohio Minor Law, which requires parental consent for abortions performed on women under 18, and the Ohio Viability Law, which bans abortions once a fetus has become viable and requires testing for viability after 20 weeks.

Gov. John Kasich recently vetoed the “heartbeat bill” that attempted to criminalize abortion once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Kasich said that the bill would violate the Supreme Court ruling that allows abortion at least until the fetus is viable.  

A senate committee has held multiple hearings on the new legislation. Another hearing, scheduled after the fall recess, is likely to result in a vote.

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