Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law on Friday that bans abortions for fetuses who test positive for Down syndrome.
The newfound “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act,” which takes effect in 90 days, takes a hard line on the Down syndrome battle, preventing women who test positive from seeking abortions and threatening to punish doctors who carry out the procedure, Time Magazine reported.
If found guilty of this fourth-degree felony, doctors would face a $5,000 fine as well as up to 18 months in prison. They would also lose their medical license if convicted.
Ohio’s crackdown on Down syndrome comes amid increasing activism by pro-life groups and people with Down syndrome, who argue that it is a travesty that abortion rates are so high for pregnant women who test positive for the chromosomal disorder.
Don't be fooled. Ohio's latest abortion ban isn't about fighting discrimination, it's about pushing abortion out of reach. https://t.co/e01Qp6HvFz
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 30, 2017
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had encouraged Kasich not to sign the bill, as they believe it is an unconstitutional reach into the lives of women. Furthermore, Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU’s Ohio branch, said before the signing that the bill does “nothing to improve the lives of people with disabilities, nor increase their access to health care or other services.”
Daniels also argued that it also doesn’t provide education for women who might have a child with the disability.
“It only further restricts a woman’s ability to make a decision about ending a pregnancy,” he said.
Pro-life activists, in contrast, were elated over the measure, and had hoped to see Kasich sign it into law. Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis said before Kasich’s signing that the House and Senate “sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality.”
“We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015,” he continued. “Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”
Kasich’s decision to sign the law isn’t exactly shocking, as the governor told CNN’s Jake Tapper back in 2015 that he would sign a bill that came across his desk banning Down syndrome abortions.
“I would sign it,” he said. “Look, you just don’t want to get ahead of what you’re going to do in the legislation process.”
Ohio officially joined Indiana and North Dakota in banning Down syndrome abortions, with critics arguing that these restrictions are illegal.
The Indiana law was stopped by a judge who called it unconstitutional, but that legal battle forges on, according to Fox News.