The New York Times has a long story on a new bill in Ohio that would make it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion if the sole reason is to avoid giving birth to a child with Down syndrome. The bill, which is supported by the National Right to Life Committee, is widely expected to pass both Ohio’s House and Senate. The Times notes that Ohio governor John Kasich—who is currently seeking the Republican nomination for President—hasn’t indicated whether or not he will sign the bill, but he has signed a number of bills that restrict access to abortion services.
The bill is part of a broader attempt to limit abortions sought for a single reason. States like Kansas and North Carolina have made it illegal for doctors to perform “gender selection” abortions, and Arizona has outlawed abortions motivated by either the sex or race of the child. Ohio’s law seems to follow a 2013 law passed in North Dakota that made it illegal “for a doctor to perform an abortion because of fetal genetic anomalies, including Down syndrome.” That bill was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Pro-choice advocates noted that Ohio’s bill would not only be unenforceable but that it is little more than a veiled attempt to limit abortion access. Doctors worry that the bill would have a dampening effect on open discussions of serious health concerns. The Times reports:
“‘If abortion on demand is legal,’ said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, ‘and you can have an abortion just because you want to, what does it mean to say you can’t abort for Down syndrome? It seems bizarre.’”
Indeed, there are currently no laws (in Ohio or elsewhere) that require women to reveal the reasons for their abortion. At any rate, it’s worth reading the Times’ piece to get a sense of how anti-choice organizations and lawmakers are attempting to frame the debate.
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