Kasich signs bill banning abortions when fetus has Down syndrome

Opponents say law will have ‘chilling effect’ on conversations between a woman and her doctor.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law a controversial bill that makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions if the woman wants to terminate her pregnancy because the fetus may have Down syndrome.

Related: Ohio Senate votes to ban abortions if Down syndrome diagnosed

The new law makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions with that knowledge and requires the State Medical Board of Ohio to revoke the physician’s license in such instances. As a result of the law, doctors will be required to report to the Ohio Department of Health that in each abortion performed the woman wasn’t seeking it because of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The move drew a strong response from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland. It comes just three months after a U.S. District Court in Indiana issued an injunction against Indiana’s Down syndrome abortion ban taking effect.

“When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome during her pregnancy, the last thing she needs is Gov. Kasich barging in to tell her what’s best for her family,” Copeland said. “This law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face.”

The new ban was a high-priority for Ohio Right to Life.

“No longer will lethal discrimination be tolerated in Ohio. Ohioans with special needs deserve special protection and Gov. Kasich delivered this Christmas season,” Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said.

Related: Ohio Supreme Court to decide key abortion law cases

House Bill 214 marks the 20th anti-abortion measure backed by Kasich, according to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. About half the abortion clinics in Ohio have also closed during Kasich’s tenure.

In December 2016, Kasich vetoed the heartbeat bill, saying it ran contrary to U.S. Supreme Court rulings and similar legislation had been struck down as unconstitutional in other states. Lawmakers in the Ohio House declined to return to Columbus over the holiday break last year to override the veto.

Kasich also signed into law a ban on abortion after 20-weeks gestation — a month earlier than what is generally considered to be the point of viability of a fetus outside the womb. The ban did not include an exception for the victims of rape or incest.

A total of 20,672 abortions were reported in Ohio in 2016, a 1 percent decline over 2015, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The number of reported abortions has steadily declined over the past two decades in Ohio, state reports show.



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