Appeals court rules in favor of Ohio’s Down syndrome abortion ban

Down syndrome

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that Ohio can enforce its ban on discriminatory abortions due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was divided on the issue but ultimately sided 9 to 7 in favor of the 2017 law that imposes criminal penalties on abortionists who commit abortions with the knowledge that the abortion is being carried out due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome or the possibility of such a diagnosis. Anyone who does so could be charged with a fourth-degree felony. The court determined that the law did not create a substantial obstacle to a woman’s ability to get an abortion, despite the arguments of groups that sued to block the law.

Four abortion businesses sued Ohio over the law: Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, Women’s Med, and Preterm-Cleveland — an abortion facility responsible for the deaths of at least two women that has injured many others. That lawsuit led a federal judge to block the law in 2018, and in 2019, a panel of the Sixth Circuit ruled two to one to block the law, but this latest ruling reverses the Sixth Circuit’s decision.


“By preventing the doctor from joining the woman as a knowing accomplice to her Down syndrome-selective decision making, House Bill 214 prevents this woman from making the doctor a knowing participant (accomplice) in her decision to abort her pregnancy because her fetus has Down syndrome,” wrote Sixth Circuit Judge Alice Batchelder. “As limitations or prohibitions go, this is specific and narrow.”

READ: Down syndrome campaigner Heidi Crowter: ‘I’m not a devastating diagnosis or a crisis pregnancy’

Batchelder noted that the law only prevents abortionists from committing abortions with the knowledge of a Down syndrome diagnosis and that if the woman doesn’t give her reason the doctor is not liable and the abortion would proceed legally.

“Even though House Bill 214 does not prohibit Down syndrome-selective abortions and might not actually reduce the incidence of such abortions, by prohibiting doctors from knowingly participating in this practice, it sends a resounding message condemning the practice of selective abortions,” she wrote.

However, the other judges who supported the bill spoke of abortions due to Down syndrome as acts of eugenics.

“Many think that eugenics ended with the horrors of the Holocaust,” wrote Judge Richard Allen Griffin. “Unfortunately, it did not. Eugenics was the root of the Holocaust and is a motivation for many of the selective abortions that occur today.”

Targeting children with Down syndrome for abortion is discriminatory killing, and many parents have testified about being pressured into abortion by medical staff.

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