Ohio Bill Would Ban Abortions Motivated By Down Syndrome Testing

| by Michael Allen

Pro-life lawmakers in Ohio want to ban abortions that are motivated by the mother's desire not to have a baby with Down syndrome.

House Bill 135 is likely to pass because state lawmakers, who are supported by the National Right to Life Committee, have more than a two-thirds majority in the Ohio Senate and House.

Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is running for president, has not yet declared where he stands on the bill.

Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, told The New York Times:

We all want to be born perfect, but none of us are, and everyone has a right to live, perfect or not. You go to any supermarket or mall and see these families who just happen to have a child with Down syndrome, and they will tell you how fortunate they are to have those children. Pretty soon, we’re going to find the gene for autism. Are we going to abort for that, too?

Kellie Copeland, the executive director of Naral Pro-Choice Ohio, countered:

This is interference with a medical decision following a complicated diagnosis. For us, it comes down to who makes the decision and who’s going to have to live with it. Not knowing the family and the circumstances, the legislature can’t possibly take into account all the factors involved.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, there are screening tests that women can take to see if they have a high risk of carrying a fetus with Down syndrome, but the tests cannot absolutely determine if an unborn baby has the syndrome. There are more invasive diagnostic tests, but those procedures can pose a physical risk to the fetus.

National and local Down syndrome organizations have not taken a position on Ohio's bill.

The Daily Beast asked Ohio Right to Life and the National Right to Life Committee how the bill would be enforced as a law, but did not receive any comments.

Sources: The New York Times, Mayo Clinic,, The Daily Beast / Photo Credit: Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia