Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs new law, bans abortion for pregnancies with Down syndrome

Down syndrome is a lifelong genetic condition, which affects a person's cognitive ability, and causes mild to severe learning disabilities.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs new law, bans abortion for pregnancies with Down syndrome

Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich signed a legislation on Friday prohibiting doctors in the state from performing abortions in certain cases where tests reveal the fetus possibly has Down syndrome. The law reportedly goes into effect in 90 days. 

"The governor is pro-life and supports policies that protect the sanctity of life," press secretary Jon Keeling told CNN.

Down syndrome is a lifelong genetic condition, which affects a person's cognitive ability, and causes mild to severe learning disabilities. The condition delays physical growth and is characterized by distinct facial features in affected people. The condition occurs due to a presence of all or part of the third copy of a particular chromosome. 

Ohio's Republican Governor John Kasich (Getty Images)

Reports state that the law bans abortions after prenatal tests show that the fetus has Down syndrome or if there's "any other reason to believe" that the fetus has the particular genetic condition. 

The new law states that if a person gets an abortion in such a case, then they could face a fourth-degree felony charge, and the physicians performing the procedure could also lose their licenses. The legislation, however, adds that the woman seeking the abortion would not be held accountable for the act.



Other states like North Dakota and Indiana have also passed similar laws. The abortion law in North Dakota came into effect in 2013, while the Indiana law was blocked by a federal judge. 

An anti-abortion advocate rallies outside of the Supreme Court (Getty Images)

Down syndrome can be diagnosed through prenatal screening tests during pregnancy. There is no cure for the condition, however, there are treatments available to improve the quality of life of the affected. The treatments include speech, occupational, emotional and other therapies; supplements and drugs; and assistive devices.



The new Ohio law has been welcomed by the anti-abortion advocates who say the legislation represents that the state sees the lives of people with Down syndrome worth living.

"Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life," Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life said, according to CNN.

 Demonstrators protest in front of the Thompson Center to voice their support for Planned Parenthood (Getty Images)

"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. 

While, Rep. Sarah LaTourette — who introduced the House bill in November — said that the legislation passed is not about the issue of abortion,  but rather an issue of discrimination.



"A diagnosis of Down syndrome for your unborn child can be devastating and life-changing. Not everyone is equipped to handle this lifelong commitment, but thankfully, as you can see, there are now many options available to families," LaTourette said last week.

Anti-abortion advocates rally outside of the Supreme Court (Getty Images)

"I believe that life begins at conception and that abortion should never be considered an option. However, regardless of if you agree with me or not, I hope that you can see that this is not an issue about abortion; it is an issue of discrimination - discriminating against a person, not allowing them their God-given right to life, simply because they might have Down syndrome," LaTourette added. 



The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, however, condemned the legislation and said that it would be interfered with women's rights to make their decisions about their own body and life.

Demonstrators protest in front of the Thompson Center to voice their support for Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights (Getty Images)

"We should never force any woman to become a parent against her will or question her decisions about pregnancy. We don't know her circumstances. Shame on our legislators for judging anyone else's decision about something as important as whether to become a parent," said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio.

Demonstrators protest in front of the Thompson Center to voice their support for Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights (Getty Images)

"We urge Gov. Kasich to do the right thing for Ohio women and families and veto this dangerous legislation."


 

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