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What's Next For Ohio's Ban On Abortions After A Down Syndrome Diagnosis?

Planned Parenthood supporters at recent rally at Ohio Statehouse
Jo Ingles
Ohio Public Radio
Planned Parenthood supporters at recent rally at Ohio Statehouse

The future of Ohio’s Down Syndrome abortion law was made clearer earlier this week when a sharply divided U.S. District Appeals Court ruled nine to seven that it could go forward. In doing that, the federal appeals court overturned two lower court decisions. Now the big question is what happens next. 

While upholding the state law that bans doctors from performing abortions if they know the pregnancy termination is due to a Down Syndrome diagnosis, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals also took away an injunction that had put the new law on hold. 

Laurel Powell with Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio says it’s a terrible decision. 

“This is a really chilling decision that is a huge setback for abortion access in Ohio," Powell says.

Planned Parenthood could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which includes three Trump appointees who are believed to have swayed the court one step closer to eliminating legal abortion altogether. Powell can’t say what Planned Parenthood will do next. 

“At this point and time, it is still early days. We are examining all of our options at this point in time. As far as where we may be able to go in the future, what I can say is no matter what, we are going to do everything that we can, everything within our power to protect abortion access and to protect our patients here in Ohio for all of those who need it," Powell says.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, says it’s an historic decision by the appeals court , which is one step away from the Supreme Court. 

“Six of the nine judges that ruled in favor of this were appointed and nominated by President Trump and approved by the United States Senate so elections do have consequences and, in this case, with the ruling in our favor, it’s positive consequences," Gonidakis says.

Gonidakis is hoping the decision will get brought in front of the U.S. Supreme Court so it can be the vehicle for overturning legal abortion. 

“At the end of the day, if it does get before the Supreme Court, under the current makeup of this court, with Alito, Thomas, Amy Coney Barret, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, we believe those are the five votes that can win on this case," Gonidakis says.

The 16 Appeals Court judges had sharp differences in their opinions on this case. One suggested the law was meant to end eugenics, while another said it’s unconstitutional and forces women to lie to their doctors.

There’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will choose to take up this case. Gonidakis says there are other cases out there, like the 20-week abortion ban, that could also be used to overturn Roe – vs – Wade. 

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.