Major Pro-life Victory: Sixth Circuit Rules Ohio May Protect Babies with Down Syndrome from Discrimination Abortions

Contact: Prudence Robertson, [email protected] | 240-672-2828

Circuit Split Increases Odds Supreme Court Will Review Constitutionality of Discriminatory Abortion Bans

Washington, D.C. – Today the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) celebrated a 9-7 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upholding Ohio’s Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act. Signed into law in 2017, this legislation prohibits abortions performed due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. The decision by the full “en banc” court reverses a three-judge panel ruling and upholds the law.

In 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against a similar prohibition on discrimination abortion in Indiana. Today’s favorable ruling by the Sixth Circuit in favor of Ohio’s Down syndrome law has created a circuit split – a development that greatly increases the possibly of Supreme Court review.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser issued the following response:

“We applaud the Sixth Circuit ruling that upholds Ohio as a safe haven for unborn babies with Down Syndrome. This law includes reasonable, compassionate measures to prevent lethal discrimination in the womb. We also recognize and celebrate that this legislation has the potential to pose a significant challenge to Roe v. Wade. Now that a circuit split has occurred on the issue of whether states may prohibit the eugenic practice of discrimination abortion, the Supreme Court has even more reason to weigh in on this important matter and declare these laws as constitutional. We encourage the high court to act now that this issue has received further consideration in the lower courts. Discriminatory abortions based on sex, race and disability are no less than modern-day eugenics, and must swiftly come to an end.”

Chuck Donovan, President of the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), added:

“In certain countries, children with Down Syndrome are being devastatingly eliminated from the population. CLI’s research has shown the vast majority of children with Down Syndrome lead happy, productive, and fulfilled lives. Justice Clarence Thomas has confirmed that this is an issue of first impression and that it remains an “open question” whether states may implement protections such as these. We are encouraged by this ruling and hope the Supreme Court will now weigh in on this important human rights issue.”

CLI scholar Thomas Messner, J.D. previously wrote a paper on the Ohio Down Syndrome Law and its potential to invoke Supreme Court review. The paper reads in part:

“Our nation’s body of law and cultural policy has turned decisively away from eugenics and disability discrimination. Upholding Down Syndrome protection laws would address one of the few remaining vestiges of a particularly pernicious form of prejudice.”

SBA List is a network of more than 837,000 pro-life Americans nationwide, dedicated to ending abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.



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