Arkansas bill pushes to ban abortion in Down syndrome cases

A bill that would prohibit abortions after tests indicate that a fetus may have Down syndrome overwhelmingly cleared the Arkansas state Senate and is now und...

Posted: Mar 25, 2019 9:08 AM

A bill that would prohibit abortions after tests indicate that a fetus may have Down syndrome overwhelmingly cleared the Arkansas state Senate and is now under consideration in the state House.

The bill passed in the Arkansas Senate on Wednesday -- the day before World Down Syndrome Day -- by a 29-2 vote.

According to state Sen. Trent Garner, who introduced the bill and is its lead sponsor, the measure seeks to curb Down syndrome discrimination by making it unlawful for a physician to perform -- or attempt to perform -- abortions solely based on a test indicating Down syndrome, a prenatal diagnosis, or any other reason to believe that an unborn child has the condition.

"I decided to push the bill forward to protect those that were born differently," Garner told CNN. "Through the disastrous procedure of abortion, we lose valuable and special people from society."

Under the proposed law, a physician would have to inform patients of the law, ask a pregnant woman if she is aware of test results, and request medical records. He or she is prohibited from performing the abortion for at least two weeks to obtain the records. There are caveats: a physician may go through with the procedure if the pregnancy puts the life of the mother or unborn child at harm, or if it is a result of rape or incest.

If the measure becomes law, physicians who violate it would face a Class-D felony, which can be punishable by up to six years in prison, and his or her medical license would be revoked. The measure, known as Senate Bill 2, states that a pregnant woman who received an abortion and was uninformed of this law may seek damages, but if she knows the law and undergoes an abortion, she will not face legal punishment.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that affects cognitive ability, causing mild to severe learning disabilities and distinctive facial characteristics. About 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This bill is not the first of its kind

If the measure becomes law, Arkansas would join North Dakota and Utah, which have similar measures already passed as laws. Ohio and Indiana state passed comparable laws, but both were blocked by a federal judge in 2018.

Arkansas already has several laws restricting abortion, including a statute that prohibits abortions after 18 weeks, except in a medical emergency.

Karen Musick, a board member at the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a grassroots organization, says the climate in Arkansas surrounding abortion makes it harder for women who are already struggling with the decision to abort an unborn child.

"The bill has nothing to do with the value of people living with Down syndrome. It does not improve access to care or assist with the massive financial and structural costs needed to raise a child with special needs," the group said in a statement.

The group said it isn't prepared to take legal action against the bill if it passes and is signed in to law. "There are far too many [bills] to focus on," Musick said.

Sen. Garner, a Republican, says he feels confident that the bill will pass in the House and be signed into law by Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The House committee on public health, welfare and labor will take testimony on bill next week Wednesday.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
54° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 54°
Huntington
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Decatur
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events