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Ohio Senate Passes Down Syndrome Abortion Ban

Abortion rights advocates protest the Down Syndrome ban on abortions at the Ohio Statehouse in 2017.
Julie Carr Smyth
Associated Press
Abortion-rights activists stand in protest on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in the Ohio Senate chamber in Columbus, after passage of a bill banning abortions in cases of a Down syndrome diagnosis.

Ohio Senate has passed another abortion ban – this one aimed at diagnoses of Down Syndrome – sparking a silent protest from abortion rights activists in the Senate chamber.

By a 20-to-12 vote, majority Republicans approved the House-passed bill that would make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion after a Down Syndrome diagnosis.

The measure makes performing such abortions a fourth-degree felony and requires the state medical board to revoke a physician's license if convicted. But women involved in such procedures wouldn't be penalized.

The legislation was a priority for Ohio Right to Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group, which said such abortions amount to discrmination. 

But Democratic Sen. Joe Schiavoni thinks it is a way to dissuade doctors from performing any abortions.

“This is another unconstitutional step toward taking a woman’s right to choose away,” Schiavoni said.

Doctors and some parents of children with Down syndrome testified against the bill during in hearings, saying families and their physicians should have the right to make decisions about abortion.

Republican Senate President Larry Obhof isn’t worried about the legislation’s legality.

“You know we will see how it goes in court if that’s where it ends up,” Obhof said.

Gov. John Kasich has said in the past that he would sign this ban, which has been passed in two other states. A court in Indiana ruled earlier this year that a nearly identical bill, signed into law by former governor and current Vice President Mike Pence, was unconstitutional.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.