ACLU of Ohio Files Lawsuit Challenging State's Ban on Down Syndrome Abortions

The ACLU of Ohio today filed a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on abortions in cases when a fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The new law, signed by Gov. Kasich in December, is set to take effect on March 23 of this year.

The civil liberties group's suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is on behalf of Preterm Cleveland, Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio and other abortion providers throughout the state.

Arguing that the law, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion if the physician knows the women's decision is based on a likely diagnosis of Down syndrome, is unconstitutional, the ACLU is seeking for a hold on its enforcement until a court can hear arguments.

“Banning a woman from having an abortion because of a fetal diagnosis is not only unconstitutional, it also does absolutely nothing to address discrimination against people with disabilities,” Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a release. “If Ohio politicians wanted to proactively take a stance for people with disabilities, they should improve access to health care, education, or other services. This ban is just a thinly-veiled attempt to criminalize abortion in Ohio. We are committed to work to ensure this unconstitutional law is never enforced.”

“When a woman has decided to end a pregnancy, she deserves care without judgment. This law would undermine the relationship between doctors and patients, making it harder for a woman to have an honest and informed conversation with her health care provider. Politicians should stop trying to prevent Ohio women from making thoughtful decisions about growing their families,” said Chrisse France, executive director for Preterm, in the same release.