CLEVELAND– According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year about one in every 700 babies is born in the United States with Down syndrome. A bill making its way through the Ohio legislature seeks to stop all abortions of unborn children with the genetic disease.
Republican State Senator Frank LaRose, who represents the Akron area, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 164. “A lot of people with Down syndrome go on to live happy, healthy and otherwise normal lives and to terminate a pregnancy for that reason alone is problematic,” LaRose said.
Under the bill, any doctor who knowingly performs an abortion after a Down syndrome diagnosis could be charged with a felony and risk losing their license.
“It’s really concerning that some people value the lives of our fellow Ohioans with Down syndrome less than others,” LaRose said.
Kellie Copeland, Executive Director of advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio testified against the bill and says it undermines the trust between doctors and patients.
“It would encourage patients to keep information from their doctors, it would have a chilling effect on the medical community,” Copeland said.
Copeland explained the law may make women considering abortion unable to talk to their doctor about a Down syndrome diagnosis. She says if the bill were to go through, it could put women’s reproductive rights at risk across the country.
“It’s frankly a wolf in sheep’s clothing, it pretends to be about one thing but it’s really about another and it’s about the same thing all the abortion bans have been about. It’s about overturning Roe V. Wade and making all abortions illegal,” she said.
Those fighting the bill, like Copeland, say lawmakers shouldn’t get involved, while others believe it’s an issue of medical ethics.