The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals gave Ohio pro-lifers new hope last week when it agreed to hear an appeal of a state law banning abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis.
A three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit struck down the law in a 2-1 decision in October, but on Friday the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals took up the case in what is known as an en banc hearing.
A date for oral arguments has not been set.
The 2017 Ohio law bans doctors from performing abortions if the doctor “has knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion, in whole or in part” due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.
The Sixth Circuit is the same appeals court that upheld a Kentucky law requiring abortion doctors to show an ultrasound to the pregnant woman before every abortion, and also allow her to hear the heartbeat, if one is present. The Kentucky law allows the woman to decline the offer.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, filed the appeal to the full Sixth Circuit.
The state’s petition argues that Ohio has the constitutional right to pass “anti-eugenics laws.”
“Anti-eugenics laws protect the dignity of people living with conditions or traits targeted for abortion,” the petition says. “When society pursues the eradication of unborn children exhibiting a particular trait, it sends a message that people living with that trait are not as valuable as others. Today, one of the most commonly targeted traits is Down syndrome.
“In America, two-thirds of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Other Western countries – including Iceland and France – proudly boast about almost exterminating the Down syndrome population,” the petition says.
The practice of targeting unborn children with Down syndrome for abortion “devalues the lives of people living with Down syndrome.”
“Humans are not show dogs or racehorses. No traits are ideal, and no one has ‘the ‘wrong’ sex or race,’” the Ohio petition says. “... Every human life matters – certainly the people of Ohio may enact laws reflecting that view – and the medical profession must never again be associated with a contrary view. … Unless something is done, the medical profession may once again exhibit a cozy relationship with eugenic goals.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.