A Federal Appeals Court has blocked an Ohio law that makes it illegal to abort unborn babies simply because they have tested positive for Down Syndrome.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a preliminary injunction on the matter, noting that the legislation was invalid under Supreme Court precedents because of its express purpose to prevent women from obtaining pre-viability abortions.
In her decision, Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that the decision was made in the interestest of the public and ensured continued “access to constitutionally protected health care services,” according to Reuters.
However, Judge Alice Batchelder dissented in the decision, arguing that blocking the law will result in Down Syndrome children being disproportionately targeted for abortion.
“Ohio concluded that permitting physicians to become witting accomplices to the deliberate targeting of Down Syndrome babies would undermine the principle that the Down syndrome population is equal in value and dignity to the rest of Ohio’s population,” she wrote in her opinion, according to Cincinnati.com.
Quoting a previous opinion issued by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Batchelder added that states have a “compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics.”
The original law, House Bill 214, could penalize any doctor involved in arranging or performing an abortion of a Down Syndrome baby with an 18-month prison sentence.
Ohio’s former governor, John Kasich, signed the bill into law back in December 2017.
The first legal challenge to the law occurred when, in 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a suit to block the bill from taking effect. Just a month later, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black agreed, arguing that the law violated women’s right to privacy.
The president of Students for Life, a pro-life campaign organization, reacted with frustration at the latest judgement. “The inhumanity of throwing people away because they are different from us must end. But the abortion industry’s abuse of courts to force their agenda will not go on forever,” she said in a statement. “Prenatal testing should not be used to decide which babies deserve a chance at life or which will die.”
While the current Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine has yet to issue an official statement on the latest ruling, on Monday he tweeted his support for Down Syndrome Awareness Month:
Pro-life legislation has been under constant attack in the state. In July, a federal judge blocked a “fetal heartbeat” bill from coming into effect — the law aimed to outlaw abortions after a heartbeat was detected.
Groups advocating on behalf of the unborn hope that these rulings will act as a vehicle for them to take their cause to the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v. Wade itself.