A splintered federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld an Ohio law that makes it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion upon learning that the patient wants the procedure because she fears the fetus has Down syndrome.
In a 9-7 vote, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati allowed Ohio to enforce the law, reversing an earlier ruling by a smaller panel of the court.
The statute doesn’t prevent women from terminating a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome. But it prevents a physician from performing the procedure if the pregnant woman tells the doctor she is seeking the abortion because she has reason to believe the fetus has the genetic disorder.
The dispute over the law expands a relatively new front in the legal battle over abortion. The Supreme Court has never reviewed the constitutionality of restraints on abortions performed because of predicted characteristics of the fetus, such as disability, race or gender. Tuesday’s ruling marks the first time a federal appellate court has held that a statute like Ohio’s doesn’t violate the right to an abortion.
Republican legislators voted for the law, known as H.B. 214, in 2017. Before it could take effect, a federal judge barred the state from enforcing it while the court heard a lawsuit challenging it.
Source: WSJ – US News