A controversial new law has passed in Ohio that bars the aborting of fetuses due to a Down syndrome diagnosis. The law prevents women from aborting a fetus with Down syndrome under a bill passed in the state Senate on Wednesday.
The new law is headed to Republican Governor John Kasich's desk after lawmakers voted 20-12 in favor of the law. The criminalizes abortion if the acting physician has prior knowledge that the procedure is being sought because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by abnormal cell division resulting in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Those doctors who carry out an abortion being sought because of a Down syndrome diagnosis will lose their medical license in the state and face a fourth-degree felony.
Ohio became the third state to pass such a law that bans abortions due to fetal anomalies after Indiana and North Dakota. A U.S. District Judge struck down the Indiana provision in September after a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Jon Keeling, a spokesman for Governor Kasich, declined to confirm whether the governor would be signing the measure into law but did say when Kasich was asked about a similar bill in the Ohio House recently he referred to it as "appropriate."
The new law was cheered by abortion opponents such as Mike Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life. Gonidakis said, "Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have."
Kellie Copeland, executive director of abortion-rights advocacy group NARAL in Ohio, criticized the new law saying it "will create a chilling effect on the medical profession in our state and could result in a shortage of gynecologists willing to practice in Ohio."
The ACLU of Ohio is in the process of evaluating the final bill and has yet to decide if they will pursue legal action. From the moment the bill reached Kasich's office he has 10 days to sign the bill into law.
If the bill is signed it will mark the 20th piece of Ohio legislation restricting abortion rights.
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