Court Battles

Appeals court lifts hold on Ohio law preventing abortions based on Down syndrome diagnosis

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An appeals court on Tuesday decided to lift a hold on an Ohio law which bans abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis, The Associated Press reported.

Judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were divided on the decision, but ultimately ruled to reverse blocking enforcement of the 2017 law.

The majority of the court said that the law doesn’t impede a woman’s right to an abortion, as was argued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Planned Parenthood and several other abortion providers in the case.

“In this case, Ohio does not rely on its interest in protecting potential fetal life,” the ruling said. Instead, its interest in passing the law was to protect the Down syndrome community from “the stigma it suffers from the practice of Down-syndrome-selective abortions.”

The ACLU sued the state’s health department, medical board and county prosecutors in 2018 on behalf of abortion providers, arguing that the law infringes on a woman’s constitutional right to a procedure that is legal. The state argued the law does not ban the procedure but instead regulates doctors.

“It’s unfortunate that the court gave so little weight to the importance of open and honest communication within the doctor-patient relationship,” Jessie Hill, an attorney for the ACLU of Ohio, said Tuesday. 

Some parents of children with Down syndrome joined with abortion rights groups opposing the law, saying that the genetic disorder was being used to gain sympathy for a new restriction. 

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