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The Ohio legislature has voted in favor of a bill which would penalize doctors who perform abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The vote passed, with a count of 20-12, and is now pending approval by Governor John Kasich, who has 10 days to veto the bill.
Under the proposed law, physicians who violate the proposed ban would face a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. They could also lose their license to practice medicine and face lawsuits if the woman is injured or dies because of the prohibited abortion.
Those in favor of the bill claim it will save lives. A 2012 study published in the medical journal “Prenatal Diagnosis” put the rate of abortion after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome between 50 and 85 percent. Some, however, fear that singling out Down syndrome over other diagnoses sends a message that some disabilities are “more worthy” of life than others.
It is still unclear whether Kasich will sign or veto the bill. In 2015, Kasich claimed he would sign a bill like this, if given the chance. However, Ohio’s bill is very similar to legislation which attempted to pass in Indiana, but was challenged and found unconstitutional. Kasich has previously shown that he would veto a bill which he did not find constitutional.