On Monday, which was the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day, West Virginia officially outlawed disability-based abortions.
Jim Justice, the Republican governor of West Virginia, signed Senate Bill 468 into law on Monday. The legislation prohibits abortions “because of a disability, except in a medical emergency.”
The bill, also known as the Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act, defines disability as “the presence or presumed presence of a disability or diagnosis in a fetus including, but not limited to, chromosomal disorders or morphological malformations occurring as the result of atypical gene expressions.”
“Except in a medical emergency or a nonmedically viable fetus, a licensed medical professional may not perform or attempt to perform or induce an abortion, unless the patient acknowledges that the abortion is not being sought because of a disability,” SB 468 added.
The new law also orders licensed medical professionals to “document these facts in the patient’s chart and report such with the [Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health].”
“[World Down Syndrome Day] made for the perfect day to sign SB 647 and SB 468. Both bills give deserved respect to our Down Syndrome community,” the governor tweeted.
Today we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day! 💙 💛— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 21, 2022
That made for the perfect day to sign SB 647 and SB 468. Both bills give deserved respect to our Down Syndrome community.
SB 647: https://t.co/OpCLvba8bH
SB 468: https://t.co/7XkHWQDfu1
📸: https://t.co/dr6OIOOaeN pic.twitter.com/77cdphtOao
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, praised the signing of SB 468, describing it as “a bold step forward today in the fight against eugenic discrimination in America.”
“Research shows 99% of people with Down Syndrome lead happy lives, yet instead of being cherished and included, far too often they are targeted for destruction in the womb where they are most vulnerable,” Dannenfelser explained in a statement.
“We are proud to stand with West Virginians, the community of self-advocates and their loved ones calling on our nation to ‘embrace, not erase’ Down Syndrome,” she continued.
SB 468, which passed the state’s House of Delegates and Senate, was sponsored by Republicans Sen. Patricia Rucker and Delegate Kayla Kessinger.
Democratic Delegate Evan Hansen, who opposed the legislation, warned that SB 468 “creates government overreach into personal family medical decisions.”
“This is an attempt to use people with disabilities as props for an anti-abortion agenda, something that the disability community has not asked for, as far as I know — and that’s just wrong,” he argued during a legislative debate on March 12, MSN News reports.
West Virginia’s new abortion ban adds to a growing list of states that have halted the procedure due to genetic abnormalities. Some legislations, however, were met with legal challenges.
Last month, a Tennessee law banning abortions based on a Down Syndrome diagnosis was reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, reversing a previous ruling from a lower court that blocked the measure.
In September 2021, a federal judge blocked a portion of an Arizona law that criminalized abortions based on a genetic abnormality, The Christian Post reports. Meanwhile, in Ohio, a federal appeals court upheld a ban on down syndrome abortions last April.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Tatiana Dyuvbanova
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.