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Ohio House bill would prohibit some abortions for babies with Down Syndrome

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An Ohio house bill would prohibit abortions for pregnant women who want to terminate their pregnancy after fetal test results indicate their baby has Down Syndrome.

House Bill 135, introduced in March by Rep. David Hall, R-Millersburg, and Rep. Sarah LaTourette, R-Bainbridge Township, is supported by Sarah Palin. In a CNN interview, she urged Ohio governor and 2016 presidential candidate John Kasich to sign the bill if passed by the General Assembly. Kasich opposes abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s life, but his stance on the issue addressed by the proposed bill is unknown.

As a co-sponsor for the ban on abortion for Down Syndrome babies, Ohio Rep. John Becker, R-Union Township, stated in a CNN interview that the bill is not aimed towards mothers, but at doctors. Becker also believes it would be best to put the children with Down Syndrome up for adoption if the biological parents are not equipped to raise children with the developmental disability.

“A pro-life movement really means pro-life for all innocent life,” Becker said.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, the estimated number of babies born with Down Syndrome is 12.6 per 10,000, or 5,300 births each year. The ability to prenatally diagnose Down Syndrome has reduced the population of individuals with the disability by roughly 30 percent.

The costs of raising children with Down Syndrome are high for any parent. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, the average medical care costs are 12 times higher for children with Down Syndrome than for children without it.

Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, opposes this legislation because he believes it restricts women’s rights. According to Daniels, if passed, the bill would overturn Roe v. Wade, a landmark court case that legalized abortion in 1973.

“Those supporting HB 135 and similar legislation that impacts women’s reproductive rights know they have an uphill battle. For decades, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled the threshold for lawful versus unlawful abortions is the viability of the fetus,” Daniels said. “However, that has not prevented those who oppose reproductive rights from constantly trying to get yet another case before the Supreme Court in hopes a majority of justices will abandon that viability framework.”

In Daniels’ testimony on HB 135, he stated his concern that the legislation would cause doctors to worry about their licenses and make patients unwilling to talk about their health, creating an uneasy atmosphere. He believes there is only a small chance that the bill will pass.

If the Supreme Court wanted to do away with the basic concept of viability as the deciding factor, they are free to do so at any point (pursuant to a relevant case before them),” Daniels said. “Such reversals rarely happen, but they have. Supporters of this bill hope it will happen again so they keep trying.”

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