ACLU challenges OH law banning abortions based on Down Syndrome diagnosis

Wiki Media

Wiki Media

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit against the State of Ohio's new law against abortion babies who may have Down Syndrome this week.

The law, signed December 22 by Gov. John Kasich, makes it a felony offense for a doctor to perform an abortion after a prenatal screening or test indicates the fetus has or is likely to have Down syndrome. Physicians who violate the new law will be liable to lose their medical license and could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and a $5,000 fine.

The ACLU suit was filed on Thursday in a Federal court in Cincinnati on behalf of Preterm in Cleveland, Planned Parenthood and other OH abortion providers. Laws are on hold in IN and Louisiana pending court challenges.

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The ACLU is challenging the law on Fourteenth Amendment [text] grounds, arguing that the bill "undermines [physicians'] mission to honor and support the decisions theirs patients make, whether it is to continue or end a pregnancy" and characterizes the bill as "Ohio's latest attempt to prevent women from exercising their constitutionally protected right to abortion". The woman seeking the abortion is not penalized.

"If Ohio politicians wanted to proactively take a stance for people with disabilities, they should improve access to health care, education, or other services", Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement. 214, OH has attempted to pass and enforce 18 laws [ThinkProgress report] which, in some manner, restricted access to abortions.

The abortion providers behind the lawsuit argue that the law is an unconstitutional restriction on abortion access.

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According to Reuters, North Dakota and IN have laws like Ohio's, but Indiana's has been blocked by a court issued injunction.

In Ohio, The Dayton Daily News reports state lawmakers are considering several other measures to restrict access to abortion, including "bills that would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion using a surgical procedure commonly used in second trimester abortions; ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks gestation; and require cremation or burial of aborted fetuses".

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