ACLU Files Suit Challenging Ohio's Down Syndrome Abortion Law


The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed a lawsuit Thursday against a number of county prosecutors and state medical directors, attempting to stave off the implementation of an Ohio bill that bans abortions sought because the child has Down Syndrome. The bill, signed by Governor John Kasich, is scheduled to take effect March 23.

The lawsuit also refers to the ban—which would strip doctors of their licenses and force them to face a fourth-degree felony charge if they know that the reason their patient is seeking an abortion is because the fetus might have Down Syndrome—as “unconstitutional.”

“For many families, the right decision is to continue the pregnancy and parent a child with Down syndrome; for some, it is to give birth and place the child for adoption; and for others, it is abortion. In the case of patients who have received a positive test for fetal Down syndrome, and who choose not to continue the pregnancy, [the abortion ban] prevents Plaintiffs from providing nonjudgmental, medically appropriate care,” the lawsuit says.

It continued: “H.B. 214 wrests from those patients and their families the ability to decide what is right for them. Yet H.B. 214 provides not one whit of support for children and adults with Down syndrome, or for their parents. All it does is move the locus of personal, medical decision-making from the patient to the legislature, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Ohio is reportedly the third state, after Indiana and North Dakota, to pass laws banning abortions predicated on preventing so-called “fetal anomalies.” The ACLU successfully challenged Indiana’s version of the law in September after a U.S. District Judge struck it down.

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