Ohio lawmakers raised questions and concerns about a bill to ban abortion after a Down syndrome diagnosis, during a committee hearing last week.
Sponsored by Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township), HB 135 would make it a felony to perform an abortion on a pregnant person who “is seeking the abortion solely because” of a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis.
The House Community and Family Advancement Committee held a hearing on the bill last week, and took witness testimony from seven proponents of the legislation. No testimony was taken from opponents.
During a committee hearing LaTourette said that the intent of the bill is to prevent discrimination, not to prevent access to abortion care.
“I hope that you can see that this isn’t an issue about abortion; it’s an issue of discrimination,” said LaTourette, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “Discriminating against a person, not allowing them their God-given right to life, simply because they might have Down syndrome.”
Some Democratic lawmakers questioned how the state would be able to enforce the ban and why decisions based on one medical condition should be prohibited by the state and not others.
Rep. Kevin Boyce (D-Columbus) raised concerns on whether or not the bill could lead to prohibitions on certain prenatal medical tests.
“When you start to ban certain findings, then the next question is going to be [should] we start banning certain invasive testing,” Boyce said, reports the Ohio Record-Courier. “If we’re banning the outcomes of some of those, then are we [putting] the mother at risk by doing this invasive testing.”
Stephanie Ranade Krider, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, was among those who testified in favor of the bill. During her testimony Krider said that even though “abortion is never the right choice,” abortions due to a Down syndrome diagnosis are a “modern day practice of eugenics.”
“It’s particularly egregious that unborn children can be denied life simply due to the presence of a disability or an extra chromosome,” said Krider.
Ohio Right to Life listed the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act” among its top six legislative priorities for the state.
There have been seven bills to ban abortion due to genetic anomalies introduced in state legislatures this year, and none have been passed.
House Community and Family Advancement Committee Chairman Rep. Timothy Derickson (R-Oxford) said that the committee would hear more testimony before casting a vote on whether or not to recommend the bill for passage by the full house, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Republicans hold a 65-34 majority in the house, and 23-10 majority in the senate.