Ohio’s House on Wednesday passed a bill that would ban abortions after a fetus is diagnosed with Down syndrome. The legislation, passed in a 63-30 vote, penalizes doctors who violate the law and perform abortions after such a diagnosis.
“Their right to life should be protected,” said Rep. Derek Merrin, who proposed the bill. “Individuals with Down syndrome are truly treasures.”
Doctors who violate the law would face a fourth-degree felony charge, with a fine up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in prison. Doctors can also lose their licenses or be held liable if the woman is injured or dies during the procedure.
According to a 2012 study published in Prenatal Diagnosis, American women choose to abort a pregnancy 50%-85% of the time after a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Women who seek abortions after a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis would not face any penalties.
Ohio joins three other states – North Dakota, Indiana and Louisiana – in passing laws that ban abortions after a fetus is diagnosed with a genetic abnormality. Louisiana’s law is being challenged in court, and a federal judge has already ruled Indiana’s law to be unconstitutional.
House Bill 214 still has to pass the Senate, which is primarily composed of Republican members. The bill would then head to the governor’s desk, who could choose to sign it, veto it, or let it pass without his signature.
Governor John Kasich has already signed several bills that limit access to abortion. He recently signed into law a bill that limits abortions after 20 weeks.
But last year, he vetoed one abortion bill, known as the “heartbeat bill.” The legislation would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks. Conservative lawmakers are pushing for the legislation once again. One GOP lawmaker defended the heartbeat bill on Wednesday.