We’re Challenging Ohio Lawmakers’ Thinly Veiled Attempt to Push Abortion Out of Reach

Ohio politicians have launched yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights, and to make matters worse, they are mounting their attack in the guise of a concern for individuals with disabilities.

Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Preterm Cleveland and a number of other abortion care providers to challenge an unconstitutional abortion ban. The law, signed by Gov. John Kasich, would prevent a woman from ending a pregnancy because of a Down syndrome diagnosis. It does so by criminalizing any doctor who knowingly performs an abortion sought on that basis. The law, unless it is stopped by a court, would go into effect next month.

Although it’s packaged differently from the other 18 restrictions that Gov. Kasich signed before it, this ban is just another thinly veiled attempt to push abortion out of reach and interfere in a woman’s personal decision. It’s also unconstitutional — a federal court struck down a similar law in Indiana back in 2016.

Let’s make one thing clear: This law does nothing to honor or support families who decide to bring a special needs child into the world. It does not improve access to health care, education, or other services, nor does it do anything to address discrimination against people with disabilities. What this law does is to deny women’s constitutional right to make their own reproductive decisions, and it also interferes with women’s relationships with their doctors, by making it harder to have honest and informed conversations.

We can’t know all the factors behind a woman’s decision to continue or end a pregnancy. We can, however, ensure that a woman has the relevant information and resources she needs to make the decision that’s best for the circumstances of her pregnancy and for her family. Politicians should do everything in their power to make sure Ohio women have access to accurate medical information, resources, and the support necessary to raise their children with dignity. Instead, they’re passing laws that restrict a woman’s ability to have these critical conversations, while forcing doctors to interrogate their patients.

Emily Chesnut — the mother of seven-year-old Nora, who has Down syndrome — spoke at the press conference announcing the lawsuit. She said it best:

No parent should have to embark on this journey uninformed. They should be able to have a frank, honest conversation with their doctor about what it will mean to have a child with Down syndrome. They should have all the information and be encouraged to ask more questions, so they can make this very personal decision freely, without the presence of politicians in the exam room. This bill does nothing to help with that.

I understand that talking about Down syndrome tugs at heartstrings. I understand the fierce pride and protectiveness that parents of children with Down syndrome feel. I feel it too.

This bill is not about Down syndrome. It is not about protecting our children or making their lives better.

This bill is about putting another hurdle in front of women who have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their futures. As a mother, I will not stand for that.

If Ohio politicians do, in fact, want to support people with disabilities, there are many steps they could take. The government’s role should be to help level the playing field for people with disabilities, who face particular obstacles in getting health care, housing, education and other services. How about we start with improving those services?

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Mister Sterling

The cure to Down Syndrome, sadly is abortion. Kill this law. It's an attack on people with disabilities, women, the Constitution and our intelligence.

Anonymous M.C.

Well, we don't want to overlay this conversation with a hint of eugenics. It isn't necessary to suggest that all people with Down Syndrome would have been better off not being born. But this bill is certainly a faux-solicitous excuse to take another chunk out of the unqualified right of women/parents to obtain a safe medical abortion for any personal reason whatsoever up until the fetus can survive outside the womb -- and for certain reasons, with judicial oversight, thereafter. My two DS grandchildren are lively, adorable kids but the probability of having a third with the same condition has kept their parents from risking a third pregnancy. Should they decide to do so, no politician should have any say over whether they must continue that pregnancy or not. That is true regardless of what any genetic testing of their fetus might reveal. Like the severe "safety" restrictions enacted for abortion clinics in TX that were purported by sanctimonious Texas lawmakers to be about "protecting the patient", this bill also is a rights-infringing wolf wrapped in sheep's clothing.

Anonymous

Exactly!

Michelle

Mister Sterling, where does it say in any medical text book that the cure for a genetic disorder is to kill the fetus? Can you refer me to your source? Because, even as a non-medical professional, I know there is no cure for this. Did you ever consider that perhaps there's no cure because it's not actually a disease that kills people? And if you are insistent that DS needs a cure, fine! Do you know what that requires? What do you think it requires? I believe the answer is: We need more children with DS to be born so doctors can do what they are trained and called to do: practice medicine on them! How can anyone practice medicine on an aborted baby who has DS? What good will come of that? Have we ever cured any disease from embryonic stem-cells? I'll save you the trouble of looking it up - the answer is 0. We have saved 0 lives from embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells? Yep.
Your ignorant comment did have one truth in it: Abortion is "an attack on people with disabilities." It literally kills them.

Anonymous

SOME PEOPLE ARE READY TO GO TO WAR TO PROTECT AN EMBRYO. YET, IT IS OKAY TO MURDER 17 SCHOOL CHILDREN. CAN YOU SAY INSANE? SURE, LET THEM BE BORN, NOW YOU HAVE TARGET PRACTICE!

Anonymous

Abortion is murder.

Anonymous

This is "your opinion", not fact. You have no right to shove "your opinions" into my life and control my
personal or anyone's medical decisions with them. Butt out of others lives and if you want to save lives try supporting sane gun control laws.

My Magical Vagi...

To call it murder isn't merely you're opinion, it's factually a lie. I get that you like calling it "murder" to make sure we know you're anti-choice but it would be refreshing if the anti-choice would fight to strip away a woman's reproductive rights with honesty & integrity for once. It's not that you actually think it's "murder" to abort for that would make even the zygote a person with all the rights & protections of real living, breathing, thinking, feeling, existing persons. That would mean that any pregnancy conceived in the US is instantly a legal citizen with a right to be living freely in the US. No recently impregnated undocumented immigrant could be sent back to the third world country they fled from b/c that US zygote is equal to real newborn babies actually born in the US. If that zygote is a person then we've been ignoring the thousands of persons miscarried every year, not even giving them names & death certificates. It also means that to take the brain dead person off life support is murder because the zygote/embryo is on par with brain dead persons. Both lack brainwaves, can't feel pain & are entirely devoid of even the most basic awareness. You can't murder a non-person. Potential personhood occurs at approx 24 weeks b/c that is when the fetus first has even the slightest chance of surviving outside the uterus. Any consciousness, ability to recognize painful stimuli as painful or dream doesn't occur until at least 30 weeks. Most abortions are by 9 weeks and essentially all by 12 weeks. Oral abortifacients are the safest, cheapest option that can be given up to approx 63 days, which is still an embryo. The first dose is taken in the clinic & the second dose that causes the abortion to begin is taken in the privacy of your own home. Privacy is a top priority for women. When you use the term "murder" so flippantly to convey how you FEEL emotionally about abortions, it only serves to widen the divide between anti-choice and pro-choice. It is an egregious and immature tactic of emotional manipulation that shows no desire to ever see all sides come together in a respectful understanding to find a middle ground.

Fan of Magical Vagi

I Hope Anonymous READS YOUR WORDS. And for once, takes a reality check to heart.

Anonymous

KILLING LIVING, BREATHING CHILDREN AS OPPOSED TO NON-VIABLE DEVELOPING FETAL CELLS IS MURDER .... And if you don't have a uterus, you have no right to dominate and control a woman through her body.

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