Legislation to prohibit abortion of unborn with Down’s Syndrome gains key support
PERRYSBURG, OH-Citing some significant positive changes in the provisions of the legislation, the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio (RTLACO) announced today their support for House Bill 214, a bill to ban the abortion of unborn children with Down’s Syndrome. The measure, sponsored by state Representatives Sarah LaTourette of Madison and Derek Merrin of Waterford, would create a fourth-degree felony penalty for a physician who takes the life of a child with Trisomy-21, the genetic condition creating Down’s Syndrome.
“We commend Representatives LaTourette and Merrin for hearing the concerns we raised over the previous iteration of this measure during the last session” stated Ed Sitter, President of RTLACO and executive director of Greater Toledo Right to Life, a member organization. “House Bill 214 now provides stronger protections for these very defenseless babies, and we believe is much more enforceable than it’s predecessor bill, House Bill 135.”
The Down’s Syndrome ban bill was first introduced during the 131st General Assembly as House Bill 135, and was reported from the House Community and Family Advancement Committee, but failed to be brought to the floor for a vote. “It concerned our coalition members greatly that the original bill required the knowledge of the presence of Down’s to be the sole reason for an abortion in order to have the law’s provisions apply” noted Paula Westwood, RTLACO Legislative Committee chair and executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. “We felt that created an environment in which abortions on Down’s babies might continue effectively unabated, and we couldn’t support that.”
The current iteration of the legislation, House Bill 214, provides that if a test or diagnosis shows Down’s syndrome, or any other reason to believe that the child has Trisomy-21, then an abortion on that child would be illegal. There would also be created a civil cause of action for violation of the prohibition, and the physician would have to certify in writing to the Ohio Department of Health on the mandated abortion reporting form that there was no knowledge that a Down’s Syndrome related situation was in whole or part a cause for the abortion.
“Tighter requirements for the licensed professional to follow the law is a great advancement for this legislation” cited Paul Coudron, executive director of Dayton Right to Life, also a RTLACO member organization. “We know that research shows that abortion after a prenatal diagnosis of Down’s is responsible for at least a 30% reduction in live births of these precious children, and that needs to stop.”
“We believe in the right to life from conception to natural death, and we promote consistency in that ethic” said Pastor Walter Moss, member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition and board member of RTLACO. “Medical advancements mean that many, many more children with genetic challenges can live loving, productive, and full lives, and our laws need to acknowledge that by protecting them in the womb. House Bill 214 is a step in that direction, and we are thankful for the twenty co-sponsors standing up for these children.”
The legislation has been assigned to the House Health Committee, chaired by Representative Dr. Stephen A. Huffman. “It is our hope to support this bill with testimony and to work with the sponsors, the chairman and members of the committee to get this bill through the Assembly” concluded RTLACO board member and president of Cleveland Right to Life Molly Smith. “Our legislative consultant and our membership will stay in contact with our legislators to keep this important measure moving.”
The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio is a statewide collaborative of organizations that stand united to advance a pro-life voice without exceptions. RTLACO members are action-oriented and focused on advancing a legislative and cultural agenda which support strong pro-life laws, elected officials, and principles that do not tolerate exceptions or trade-offs at any stage or any age. Member organizations include but are not limited to Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, Cleveland Right to Life, Dayton Right to Life, Greater Toledo Right to Life, Lake County Right to Life, Lawyers for Life, NE Ohio Values Voters, and many pro-life/pro-family organizations throughout Ohio.