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Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Back Before Ohio Lawmakers

Karen Kasler

The Ohio House could vote as soon as Wednesday on a bill that would criminalize abortions that are performed after the fetus has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

The bill in question would make Ohio the third state in the country to ban abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21.

Down Syndrome also increase the risk of some long-term health problems, including congenital heart defects and respiratory issues.

The bill would make it a fourth-degree felony to perform, induce or attempt an abortion in the case of the chance that a fetus would have Down Syndrome.

The House version has already hosted two hearings with comments from supporters, but this week, opponents are giving testimony on the bill.

The Wednesday committee session could be the final committee hearing for the bill. If it clears the House Health committee, it could be referred to a full House vote later that same day.

There’s a similar bill already under consideration in the Ohio Senate.

The Down Syndrome bills follow a report by state health officials saying the number of abortions in Ohio fell to a 40-year low in 2016.

It also comes as the Ohio Supreme Court considers two cases related to abortion restrictions inserted into the 2013 state budget. The restrictions, which force abortion providers to have transfer agreements with a local, non-public hospital, have forced at least seven clinics to close.

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.