COLUMBUS — Wednesday the House Health Committee passed the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act. This would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after learning that a diagnosis of Down Syndrome factors into the pregnant woman’s abortion decision. A doctor could face prison and the loss of his medical license when this bill is enacted into law.
The House Health Committee on Wednesday voted along party lines to approve House Bill 214.
“When we hear the statistic that 90 percent of women [who receive unwelcome test results] chose abortion because of this potential diagnosis, there’s an obvious problem there,” said Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R., Chesterland), who sponsored the measure with Rep. Derek Merrin (R., Monclova Township).
“I continue to say that this bill is about so much more than abortion,” she said. “I truly believe that it’s about discriminating against some of our most vulnerable, discriminating against an unborn child simply because they might have a Down Syndrome diagnosis. That’s something that I find absolutely unacceptable.”
The proposed Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act, which could see a full House vote as early as next week, would prohibit an abortion if the patient seeking it, at least in part, does so because she knows or has reason to believe the fetus has Down Syndrome.
Unlike other abortion bills passed in the General Assembly in recent years, House Bill 214 is less about the procedure itself and more about the pregnant woman’s motivation in seeking it. A similar measure is pending in the Senate.
A violation would be a fourth-degree felony, punishable by as much as 18 months in prison, and doctors could also be held civilly liable for damages. The State Medical Board would be obligated to revoke the doctor’s license.
The committee’s two northwest Ohio members, Mr. Merrin and Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R., Bowling Green), voted for the measure.
North Dakota and Indiana have passed similar laws. A federal court recently struck down Indiana’s law, which also prohibited an abortion because of the sex of the fetus and mandated specific disposal of fetal remains. Indiana is appealing that ruling.
Edited with permission from Jim Provance with the Blade