Ohio bill preventing women from aborting babies with Down syndrome on its way to governor’s desk

Ohio bill preventing women from aborting babies with Down syndrome on its way to governor’s desk
A new Ohio bill would prevent pregnant women from aborting babies with Down syndrome. Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich has 10 days to sign the bill, before it's automatically vetoed. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich has 10 days to sign House Bill 214, which would prevent women from knowingly aborting babies with Down syndrome, before it’s automatically vetoed.

What are the details?

The bill passed the Ohio state Senate on Wednesday with a vote of 20-12. It passed the House in November.

Kasich in November said that a bill of this type would be “appropriate,” and his press secretary, Jon Keeling, said that the governor would “take a good hard look at the bill.”

The bill prohibits abortionists from conducting abortions after a diagnosis of fetal Down syndrome has been made.

The physician or abortionist performing the abortion could face a fourth-degree felony charge if convicted. In addition to serving upward of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine, a medical professional could also be subject to losing his or her license to practice.

The mother of the unborn child would not be punished, according to the bill.

What have others said about the bill?

Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis lauded the bill.

“Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality,” Gonidakis said. “We expect Gov. Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Frank LaRose (R) said, “We should not be making a judgment of one life being more valuable than another. … To me, it’s a question of medical ethics as much as what kind of society we want to live in.”

The ACLU of Ohio, however, said that the bill is unconstitutional.

Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio, in a statement to Cleveland.com said, “This bill does nothing to improve the lives of people with disabilities, nor increase their access to health care or other services, nor does it educate a woman and her family about having a child with a disability. It only further restricts a woman’s ability to make a decision about ending a pregnancy.”

In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland called the bill “both immoral and unconstitutional.”

“It is not our place to judge or decide for any woman what she should do, or prevent her from having honest conversations about her options with her physician — especially following a complicated medical diagnosis,” Copeland said. “This legislation criminalizes those important conversations and callously disregards the unique circumstances that surround each woman’s pregnancy.”