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Law banning abortions based on Down syndrome diagnosis on its way to Utah Governor

by | Mar 1, 2019

Overwhelming support in House and Senate

By Dave Andrusko

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
via Twitter

A bill which would ban aborting babies solely because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome is now on its way to the desk of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

A month ago, the Utah House passed HB205 overwhelmingly, 54-17.

Yesterday, the state Senate did its part with a 20-6 vote. Should Gov. Herbert sign the law, it will not take effect until a similar ban in another states is upheld by a court, the so-called trigger clause.

Four other states –North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana , and Ohio—have enacted laws prohibiting abortion for genetic anomalies.

In February, when the bill was debated in the House, the division was (as it was in the Senate) strictly along partisan lines;

“We need this law to protect individuals with Down syndrome from discrimination to ensure they have the right to exist,” said Rep. Marianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, the bill’s sponsor.

“This kind of an abortion is an instance of eugenics, which we have repudiated as a people, including by the Supreme Court many decades ago,” added William Duncan, President of a pro-life think tank in Utah.

As for Senate Democrats, according to Benjamin Wood of the Salt Lake Tribune,

Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, said she didn’t want to speak for all the members of the Democratic caucus. But her opposing vote, she said, reflected her beliefs about the role and relationship between a physician and patient.

When the House debated HB 205, a 48-year-old woman with Down syndrome sang her testimony to the lawmakers:

“It’s true I don’t walk or talk just like you / It could be I’m slow but one thing I know / I want to be good at things just like you / I have feelings, too.”

Categories: Down Syndrome