A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Ohio law barring doctors from performing abortions they know are motivated by a Down syndrome diagnosis.
The court ruled that the law, originally passed in 2017, was constitutional because it regulates a doctor’s involvement, rather than a woman’s choice.
“Even under the full force of H.B. 214, a woman in Ohio who does not want a child with Down syndrome may lawfully obtain an abortion solely for that reason. H.B. 214 does not prohibit her from choosing or obtaining an abortion for that, or any other, reason,” said Chief Judge Alice Batchelder in the ruling. “It bars a doctor from aborting a pregnancy when that doctor knows the woman’s specific reason and that her reason is: the forthcoming child will have Down syndrome and, because of that, she does not want it.”
H.B. 214 charges doctors with a felony if they perform an abortion knowing that abortion was prompted by a Down syndrome diagnosis.
The appeals ruling overturned a previous ruling that barred the law from taking effect. The law was originally challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Sixth Circuit decided to overrule the clearly correct decision from the district court. Patients should have all the information desired about their pregnancy, and be encouraged to ask questions confidentially in order to make the very personal decision to have an abortion freely, without the presence of politicians in the exam room,” said Jessie Hill, cooperating attorney for the ACLU of Ohio, in a statement on Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that the court gave so little weight to the importance of open and honest communication within the doctor-patient relationship.”
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost praised the ruling, which was passed 9-7.
“Protecting the lives of every Ohioan is something I have fought vigorously for and will continue to do so,” Yost said in a statement. “I applaud the court’s decision to uphold a law that is meant to do just that.”
Read the court’s opinion here.
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