Ohio attorney general asks for another review of Down syndrome abortion ban


Eric Heisig - Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)



CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio’s attorney general has asked a full federal appeals court to review a decision that prevented the state from enforcing a law that bans an abortion after a test shows a fetus has Down syndrome.

Attorney General Dave Yost’s office wants the full court to overturn a 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from earlier this month that blocked the law from going into effect.

The Ohio law, signed in December 2017, bans abortions after a prenatal screening or test shows the fetus likely has Down syndrome. Doctors who perform an abortion with knowledge of a possible Down syndrome diagnosis could be convicted of a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

A federal judge in Cincinnati blocked the law last year, calling it unconstitutional, and said the state could not enforce it while a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio on behalf of Preterm and Planned Parenthood was pending.

Ohio Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers wrote in a filing Friday that the 6th Circuit panel’s ruling was incorrect. The two judges wrote that the law must be viewed through the lens of previous U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding abortion and that under those, Under those, the state does not have an interest in preventing discrimination until viability, or the time when a fetus has the potential to survive outside the womb.

Flowers wrote that the state has an interest in counteracting the use of practices promoting eugenics, a problematic set of ideas with the main goal of improving human genetics, as it pertains to fetuses with Down syndrome.

“Unless something is done, the medical profession may once again exhibit a cozy relationship with eugenic goals. Health authorities here and abroad are facilitating at best, and promoting at worst, the eradication of ‘undesirable’ traits,” Flowers wrote. “The panel’s decision keeps the States from acting to counteract this.”

The ruling is part of just one of several challenges to Ohio laws restricting abortion, with the most severe being one that bans abortions after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill in April and a federal judge blocked it in July before it went into effect.

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Eric Heisig

Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland (TNS)

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