When a mother receives the news that her child will be born with Down syndrome, should she have the choice to obtain an abortion?
Ohio’s GOP-controlled Legislature says “no.” Lawmakers, with a 20-12 vote in the Ohio Senate, sent a bill to Gov. John Kasich that would penalize doctors who perform abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Kasich said in 2015 that he would sign such a bill.
The proposed law has sparked division within the Down syndrome community.
Winton Hills’ Anne Chasser told lawmakers she can’t imagine life without her younger brother, Christopher, who has Down syndrome. Their family recently celebrated Christopher’s 50th birthday with a big reunion near Lake Erie.
But Chasser, who previously worked as the University of Cincinnati’s intellectual property leader and commissioner of trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C., doesn’t think state legislators should prohibit abortions based on the diagnosis.
“I believe that a pregnant woman must have the right to choose what is best for her and her family,” Chasser told lawmakers at a hearing last month. “This decision should not be made by the government.”
Kelly Kuhns, of Plain City outside Columbus, supports the bill. Kuhns said she cried for hours when she learned that her youngest son was diagnosed with Down syndrome. But she saw him wiggling during ultrasounds and heard his heartbeat. Her family decided against an abortion.
“My son Oliver and the other people that have been diagnosed with Down syndrome deserve to live and should not be subjected to the discriminatory practice of selective abortion,” she said.
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