Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law Dec. 22 prohibiting abortions in cases where a diagnosis of Down syndrome has been made.
The law would threaten doctors performing such abortions with a fourth-degree felony, which carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison, according to Cleveland.com. They would also face losing their medical license.
Under the new law, there is no punishment for the woman who requests the abortion.
House Bill 214 "prohibits a person from performing, inducing or attempting to perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman who is seeking the abortion because an unborn child has or may have Down Syndrome," WDTN reported.
The law means that doctors will have to report every abortion to the Ohio Department of Health and confirm that the woman did not seek the procedure because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.
The vote in the Ohio State Senate was largely along party lines in early December. Some GOP lawmakers voted against the bill because similar initiatives in other states have been found unconstitutional.
Ohio joins North Dakota and Indiana in adopting legislation banning abortions following a Down syndrome diagnosis, reports The Associated Press. A federal judge blocked Indiana's law, ruling that the state has no right to inquire why a woman is seeking an abortion.
Almost 21,000 abortions were performed in Ohio in 2016. The state does not keep records on the reasons why women have abortions, so it is not clear how many will be affected by the new law.
According to a 2012 survey of abortion studies, the average abortion rate nationally following a Down syndrome diagnosis is 67 percent. However, more than 95 percent of pregnant women choose not to take the test to identify Down syndrome.
Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis praised Kasich as a "pro-life champion."
"Ohio is and will continue to be a state that sees the lives of people with Down syndrome as lives worth living, thanks to this legislation," he added, according to Cleveland.com.
Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio had a different opinion of the legislation.
"When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome during her pregnancy, the last thing she needs is Gov. Kasich barging in to tell her what's best for her family," she stated.
"His law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face," she added, reports the Dayton Daily News.