– A federal judge has blocked a law from taking effect next week which bans abortions after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
After the law was blocked by Judge Timothy Black March 14, the Catholic Conference of Ohio expressed disappointment in the decision but also hope that it may be overturned after an appeal by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
“We are disappointed, we do think that it was an appropriate first step to point out, specifically, that so many Down syndrome children are aborted,” said Jim Tobin, Associate Director of the Department of Social Justice at the Catholic Conference of Ohio.
“We are still hopeful that there are other appeals that are available here and that we may be able to yet overturn this decision,” he told CNA.
The law, which was due to go into effect March 23, bans abortions solely due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. It imposes criminal penalties on medical professionals, but women procuring abortions are not penalized.
The law was signed by Governor John Kasich in December 2017.
On behalf of Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in February against the Ohio Department of Health, county prosecutors, and members of the state medical board.
Black blocked the law’s implementation as a privacy violation: “It violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face,” he wrote.
Supporters of the law have questioned Black’s impartiality. He had served as president of Cincinnati’s Planned Parenthood in 1988 and as its director from 1986-1989. He recused himself from a case involving Planned Parenthood in 2014.
Tobin lamented the blocking of the law, calling it a tragic case disrespectful to human life.
“It’s just tragic that, particularly in the case of Down syndrome, folks would decide that [these babies] are better off aborted than lovingly cared for or placed for adoption,” he said, noting these cases show “a loss of respect for the dignity of all human life and their value.”
In a March 15 statement, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said he will appeal Black’s decision.
“I strongly disagree with the district court’s ruling that there is a categorical right to abortion that prevents even any consideration of Ohio’s profound interests in combatting discrimination against a class of human beings based upon disability. We will be appealing.”