A bill that would ban abortions for fetuses who test positive for Down syndrome has passed both the Ohio Senate and House and is now headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk, where it could soon be signed into law.
The bill’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.
If signed into law, the bill, known as the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act,” wouldn’t punish pregnant women, but would land doctors who perform an abortion with the knowledge that a pregnancy is being ended “in whole or in part” based on a Down syndrome fetal test in legal hot water, as Cleveland.com reported.
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
If found guilty, these doctors would face a $5,000 fine as well as up to 18 months in prison.
Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union have 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 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, are elated over the measure, and hope to see Kasich sign it into law. Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis said 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.”
It’s currently unclear what Kasich will do. 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.”
But, in the case of a bill like this, he reiterated that he would sign it. If Kasich does, indeed, sign the measure into law, Ohio will join Indiana and North Dakota, where similar measures have already been enacted.
The Indiana law was stopped by a judge who called it unconstitutional, but that legal battle forges on, according to Fox News.