At the request of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati agreed on Friday to rehear the case regarding Ohio’s ban on abortion in instances of a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This comes after a three-judge panel of the court upheld the injunction in October.
The case is in regard to a preliminary injunction from a U.S. District Court which prevented a 2017 law signed by then-governor John Kasich from taking effect. The law seeks to ban abortion when prenatal testing shows an increased risk that the preborn child has Down syndrome. Yost and the plaintiffs — two Ohio Planned Parenthood facilities and Preterm, a Cleveland abortion facility represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio — have until January 13 to submit legal briefs.
Preterm in Cleveland is notorious for injuring women and was responsible for the deaths of Lakisha Wilson, who went there for a late-term abortion in 2014, and Tia Parks, who went to Preterm for a first-trimester abortion in June 2019. In 2018, a hemorrhaging 25-year-old abortion patient was also kicked out of Preterm because they wanted to close for the night. She was left out on the street, forced to call 911 for herself. She told the emergency dispatcher, “I’m outside Preterm and I’m bleeding heavy. Like they just- they just left me bleeding like this.”
The abortion facilities filed the suit against the Ohio Department of Health, four county prosecutors who would be charged with enforcing the law, and two members of the state medical board, because they think the law violates a woman’s right to privacy and autonomy. However, the state believes that it has a compelling interest to protect individuals with Down syndrome. In this case that would be protecting them from discriminatory and eugenic killing through abortion. The state also feels, according to Cleveland.com, that the district court erroneously created an “absolute” right to abortion.
Under the law, abortionists who commit an abortion on a child because of a possible diagnosis of Down syndrome could face a conviction of a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Lawmakers in Ohio are currently considering a bill that would make abortion illegal in the state.
An opening date has yet to be set for oral arguments on the Down syndrome abortion ban.
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