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National Right to Life Praises Decision of U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit

by | Apr 13, 2021

Upholds Ohio’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act

WASHINGTON — In a 9-7 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed a preliminary injunction against Ohio’s 2017 Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act.

The legislation was championed by National Right to Life’s state affiliate in Ohio, Ohio Right to Life.

“Abortions targeting children with Down syndrome are inherently discriminatory,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “Every child is unique and special, and she deserves to be protected in law.”

The court’s majority decision, written by Judge Alice M. Batchelder, also clarified that, contrary to plaintiffs’ arguments, pre-viable abortions are not an “absolute right.” As the court noted in the opinion, “Simply put, there is no absolute or per se right to an abortion based on the stage of the pregnancy.”

What H.B. 214 does do is noted in the court’s opinion:

As mentioned, H.B. 214 furthers three valid and legitimate interests by protecting: (1) the Down syndrome community from the stigma associated with the practice of Down-syndrome-selective abortions, (2) pregnant women and their families from coercion by doctors who advocate abortion of Down-syndrome-afflicted fetuses, and (3) the integrity and ethics of the medical profession by preventing doctors from becoming witting participants in Down-syndrome-selective abortions. These are legitimate interests.

In the decision, Judge Batchelder also wrote that H.B. 214 met the requirements for the “undue burden” test:

We hold that the restrictions imposed, or burdens created, by H.B. 214 do not create a substantial obstacle to a woman’s ability to choose or obtain an abortion. Moreover, those restrictions are reasonably related to, and further, Ohio’s legitimate interests. Therefore, H.B. 214 is valid in all conceivable cases and the plaintiffs cannot succeed on the merits of their claim.

Ohio’s law passed in 2017 and was signed by then-Governor John Kasich.

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