An appeals court upheld a preliminary injunction against HB 214 today, an Ohio bill that would criminalize aborting preborn babies because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. HB 214 was originally signed into law by Governor John Kasich in December 2017, providing for criminal penalties and revocation of the medical license of any physician who aborted a baby purely because of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.
Trisomy 21, known more commonly as Down syndrome, is a genetic condition associated with both cognitive and physical impairments, but is not life-threatening. In fact, individuals living with it are living longer, achieving more, and bringing more joy to those around them than ever. Tragically, the latest data suggest that two out of three babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in utero are aborted.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, and the notorious Cleveland abortion facility, Preterm, (responsible for two patient deaths, including one in June of this year), filed a lawsuit against HB 214. Their lawyers used the same “this law blocks abortion access” claim that’s become increasingly common from abortion rights expansion advocates in the last few years. They also claimed that the law shouldn’t be allowed because it “neither addresses discrimination against people with disabilities nor improves the access of people with disabilities to health care, education, or other services.” This line of reasoning, of course, fails to acknowledge discrimination against people with disabilities in the womb.
The plaintiffs were awarded a preliminary injunction in March 2018, meaning that HB 214 still has not gone into effect. Today’s ruling upheld that preliminary injunction.
In her dissenting opinion, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alice M. Batchelder noted the potential for abortion to be used as a form of eugenics, preventing the birth of the “unfit.” She referenced the 1927 U.S. Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell which permitted the forced sterilization of a woman named Carrie Buck because she was “the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring.” Judge Batchelder commented, “The eugenicist impulse on display in Buck, and amplified in its aftermath, is no mere relic of history. Today, many countries celebrate the use of abortion to cleanse their populations of babies whom some would view—ignorantly—as sapping the strength of society. France and Iceland, to name only two, have in recent years achieved a birth rate of nearly zero Down Syndrome infants.”
Ohio Right to Life Vice president Stephanie Ranade Krider offered a statement on the ruling as well, saying that they hope for an en banc review of this decision:
Unborn persons with Down Syndrome deserve the same protections afforded to those already born through the Americans with Disabilities Act. While we are obviously saddened by the decision of the Court, this serves to show the moral contradictions and outright discrimination imposed by abortion jurisprudence that sorely need to be settled.
We urge the attorney general to request an en banc review by the 6th Circuit. We also pray that the time may come sooner than later that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe and allow states to settle in law what we already know to be true: an unborn human is as deserving of human rights as any other already born.
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