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Law & the Courts

Sixth Circuit Upholds Ohio Law Protecting Unborn Babies with Down Syndrome

Ohio Governor Mark DeWine speaks to volunteers at Republican Party headquarters during a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio, November 6, 2006. (Matt Sullivan/Reuters)

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Ohio law that prohibits abortions chosen on the basis of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. The law, called the “Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act,” was signed into law in 2017 but has been entangled in court battles with abortion-advocacy groups since.

Today’s 9-7 decision came from the full Sixth Circuit, an en banc ruling,  reversing an earlier ruling from a three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit that had struck down Ohio’s law.

In 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a similar bill in Indiana that sought to prevent abortions chosen on the basis of an unborn child’s diagnosis with Down syndrome.

As a result of today’s Sixth Circuit decision, there’s now a circuit split on the question of whether states are permitted to enact such laws to protect unborn children with disabilities from discrimination, making it far more likely that the Supreme Court will eventually agree to review the matter.


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