Ohio bill assumes women are emotionally and financially equipped to take care of a child with Down syndrome

Lately, a lot of attention has been focused around my home state, which is something I usually ignore unless it’s an election year. A new abortion bill proposed in Ohio this summer really took my notice.

The bill, HB135, would prohibit a woman from terminating her pregnancy if the doctor performing the abortion knows that the woman is seeking an abortion solely because because a test result indicating Down syndrome came back positive.

The legislation, sponsored by Ohio State Representatives Sarah LaTourette and David Hall, would also require the doctor to to submit a report to the Ohio Department of Health stating they do not have the knowledge that Down syndrome is the reason for their patient’s abortion. If a doctor violates the terms of this bill, they would face criminal charges and loss of their medical license.

I find it morally troubling, not to mention the fallacies in accountability already apparent in this bill.

As someone who is pro-choice and a strong proponent for disability rights, this bill is extremely conflicting to me. My first job in high school was at a respite day camp for children and adults with special needs.

At this camp, I spent much of my time with children who had Down syndrome. Many of them brought endless joy to my job. Others had medical, developmental and behavioral issues that required constant attention.

This bill assumes that every woman pregnant with a child tested positive for Down syndrome has the physical, emotional and fiscal means to care for a child with special needs. It doesn’t take into account all the services and assistance she would need to take care of her child. The bill also doesn't take into account that some children with Down syndrome grow into adults that still need a certain level of assistance. 

Of course, abortion is not the only alternative for a pregnant woman; adoption is also a viable option. But it isn't fair to expect every unwanted pregnancy to be carried to term.

It’s also ironic to me that some of these pro-life conservatives also like to cut funding towards programs like Medicaid that help fund programs and aid for the special needs populations.

Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester, who opposes abortion is also rooting for a plan to cut all Medicaid funding to the state. In 2011, Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs, who identifies himself as a pro-life Republican proposed eliminating Arizona's Medicaid program.

If lawmakers really cared about the rights of children with special needs, they would propose legislation to help improve their lives after utero, not before.

Related Links:

Thousands walk to raise funds for Down syndrome

Abortion: Not just a woman's right


Reach the columnist at kgrega@asu.edu or follow @KelcieGrega on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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