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“A pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis should not be a death sentence.” 22 states file amicus brief defending Arkansas law against discrimination-based abortion

by | May 14, 2021

By Dave Andrusko

Elsewhere today we reported how  Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Representative Ashley Hinson (R-IA) were joined by 17 senators and 65 members of the House in filing a brief with the Supreme Court asking the justices to uphold Arkansas’s law to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome from abortion. The case is Leslie Rutledge v. Little Rock Planning Services.

Arkansas received additional reinforcements on Thursday when 22 states signed an amicus brief which began  with this powerful declaration: “All States share Arkansas’s compelling interest in preventing the eradication of people with Down syndrome through the practice of eugenic abortion. … Amici have a strong interest in protecting their own Down syndrome populations and preventing the extermination of people with Down syndrome from society.” 

The amicus brief argues that Arkansas’ law advances at least eight compelling state interests:

  • Protecting the entire class of persons with Down Syndrome from being targeted for elimination solely because of disability
  • Eradicating historical animus and bias against persons with Down Syndrome
  • Safeguarding the integrity of the medical profession by preventing doctors from abandoning their traditional role as healers to become the killers of disabled populations
  • Drawing a clear boundary against additional eugenic practices targeted at disabled persons and others
  • Countering the stigma that eugenic abortion currently imposes on persons with disabilities
  • Ensuring that the existing Down Syndrome community does not become starved of resources for research and care for individuals with
  • Down Syndrome
  • Protecting against the devaluation of all human life inherent in any decision to target a person for elimination based on an immutable characteristic
  • Fostering the diversity of society and protecting society from the incalculable loss that would occur if people with Down Syndrome were eliminated.

In addition, according to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, “The brief also makes the argument that Arkansas’ prohibition against Down Syndrome abortions is not per se invalid under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. Mississippi has a similar law that prohibits abortion sought on the basis of race, sex, or genetic abnormality, except in a medical emergency.”

Fitch said, “All children are created in the image of God, fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose, and those in the disability community are a beacon of light, joy and hope radiating throughout the world.” She concluded, “A pre-natal Down syndrome diagnosis should not be a death sentence. I will always fight to protect our children, especially those who cannot fight for themselves.”

Categories: Down Syndrome
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