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Ban on Abortion After Fetal Down Syndrome Diagnosis Among Ohio Proposals

February 11, 2015 — Conservative Ohio lawmakers plan to introduce legislation that would prohibit a woman from obtaining an abortion if the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

The Down syndrome bill is part of Ohio Right to Life's upcoming legislative agenda. According to the Enquirer, if the proposal is enacted, Ohio would become the first state with such a ban.

Ohio Right to Life and abortion-rights opponents in the state Legislature also are pushing a bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy (Thompson, Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/10). Under a 2011 law (HB 78), Ohio bans abortions at 24 weeks and requires physicians to perform tests to determine if a fetus is viable beginning at 20 weeks (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/28).

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Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Stephanie Ranade Krider said abortion-rights opponents are worried that women are making abortion decisions based on early screening tests and not an amniocentesis.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a statement, "These legislative proposals interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and exploit complicated issues that can arise during pregnancy in the worst way," adding, "Medical decisions should not be made in the Statehouse, they should be made in doctors' offices based on sound medical science " (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/10).

Other Antiabortion-Rights Measures

The 20-week abortion ban and Down syndrome bill are among several proposals Ohio Right to Life touted at a press conference this week. A dozen state lawmakers joined the group at the event, according to the Columbus Dispatch (Candisky, Columbus Dispatch, 2/11).

The Enquirer reports that antiabortion-rights lawmakers also intend to introduce measures to restrict medication abortion, increase funding for antiabortion-rights crisis pregnancy centers and block Planned Parenthood from receiving grants to address infant mortality. Lawmakers also plan to introduce a bill that would ban abortion statewide, except to save a woman's life, if Roe v. Wade were overturned (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2/10).