Ohio lawmakers hear bill that would criminalize aborting children with Down Syndrome

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A bill targeting those who conduct an abortion of an unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome is making its way through the legislature.

A second hearing was held Tuesday and at least one more is expected before the bill could go to the Senate floor for a vote.

Senate Bill 164 would make it a felony for a medical professional to abort an unborn child if it is diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

The mother of the child would not face any charges, as the bill is currently written.

State Senator Frank LaRose introduced the bill in June, he considers aborting children based on a diagnosis of Down Syndrome discrimination.

“Discriminating against a certain group of people because of a disability and saying that their lives are less valuable is something that is very concerning to many of us,” said LaRose.

According to the Director of the Center for Bioethics at Cedarville University, Dr. Dennis Sullivan, about 25% of doctors are aggressively recommending abortion after an unborn child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and that concerns him.

“That seems like a form genetic discrimination that is no better than the eugenics of the early 20th century,” said Sullivan.

Pro-choice advocates like the Ohio chapter of NARAL view LaRose’s bill another way.

“This bill is interference in a medical decision following a complicated diagnosis,” said Gabriel Mann, a spokesman for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. “Politicians like Frank LaRose think that they should get to make the decision for women; we trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and for their families.”

LaRose says he does not minimize that view.

“I personally don’t believe that anybody makes a decision like this lightly. I wouldn’t say that people come to these decisions callously; it’s just not the reality,” said LaRose.

However, he says a discussion over this issue is important to have.

“That is as much a value of this legislation as actually getting it passed,” said LaRose. “I believe this is a conversation that needs to be had.”

At least one more hearing on this bill would have to happen before the committee votes to send it to the Senate floor.

At that hearing, people who support, oppose, or are indifferent about the bill are able to voice their opinions.

Larose hopes to have that hearing this fall.

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