Southern Utah legislator still has concerns about bill that would stop abortions based on Down syndrome

A controversial bill that may be passed this legislative session would ban abortions based on Down syndrome | Photo by sunaluk, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Southern Utah legislator still has questions he would like addressed before saying he’d fully support a controversial bill that would ban abortions based on Down syndrome.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, said he still has questions he’d like addressed before fully supporting a bill that would ban abortions based on Down syndrome. Snow is the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee who heard arguments about the bill at the committee meeting Jan. 26, 2018 | Profile photo via utah.gov, St. George News

The bill proposes to prohibit women from seeking an abortion because their unborn child has, or may have, Down syndrome. If passed, anyone performing such an abortion who had knowledge of the woman’s motivation would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor. The woman on whom such an abortion was performed, however, could not be prosecuted for violating the law.

Designated HB 205, the bill seeking to pass the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act is sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield. After some amendments made in the House Judiciary Committee, it received the committee’s favorable recommendation Jan. 26 with an 8-3 vote, 1 not voting. From there the bill moved to the House floor and is currently on the third reading calendar, the final phase of the House process before final vote.

Rep. V. Lowry Snow, R-St. George, is the vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee and mediated the arguments for and against the bill in the committee meeting.

“I don’t try to hide the fact that I’m pro-life,” Snow said. “But this bill has issues on the other side, particularly for parents who have to make these difficult decisions when they know their child will be born suffering from (Down syndrome).”

Snow voted favorably for the bill in the committee meeting, but he said one of the questions he’d like to have answered before he votes on the bill in the House is what effort is being done right now to educate parents who learn they may be carrying a child suffering from Down syndrome. Currently, there is no law that prohibits women from seeking abortions if their unborn baby may be suffering from a disability. 

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, Utah, circa 2018 | Legislator profile photo via house.utah.gov, St. George News

This bill’s purpose is to help curb one of the biggest forms of discrimination worldwide, Lisonbee said.

“Many Utah families have told me when they find out their baby may be diagnosed with Down syndrome, the conversation that comes first is about termination,” Lisonbee said. “The eradication signals an eugenic-like discrimination that is happening with greater frequency worldwide and here in Utah …. This bill will be Utah’s message to the world that we won’t tolerate this kind of discrimination.”

Snow said he’s concerned about some of the issues that some against the bill raised at the committee meeting.

“A lot of the discussion and debate that was happening at the committee raised a lot of questions in my own mind, so I will be studying those issues between now and the time it comes on the House floor for a vote,” Snow said.

At the committee meeting, so many people came to voice their opinion on the topic of abortions for babies with Down syndrome that they were all only given two minutes each to speak.

One woman with Down syndrome even sang about how she’s just like everyone else and how people with Down syndrome shouldn’t be treated any differently than others. Others spoke out about how they think the bill would be harmful.

“I should not have to come here and made to feel like a murderer for a decision that I may have to make for myself,” said Psarah Johnson, representative for the Utah Disability Advisory Council.

A representative for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah also said there would be legal action taken to protect a woman’s right to an abortion if this bill is passed.

“We believe this bill stands in the way of a woman seeking an abortion while doing nothing to seriously address discrimination against those with disabilities,” said Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel for the ACLU of Utah. “Make no mistake, there will be legal action here if the state of Utah chooses to go down this path.”

Attorneys with the state’s Office of Legislative Research and Counsel analyzed the bill, concluding there is a “high probability” the law, if passed, would not withstand a legal challenge. In their conclusion, counsel opined a court following current case law, Roe v. Wade and its progeny, would find the law unconstitutional for violating current case law.

The discussion around this bill is important because it gives value to people with Down syndrome, Snow said.

“We make an effort in our society and culture to normalize the lives of these individuals,” Snow said. “And while this bill isn’t about that specifically, it does raise an awareness about the sanctity of all life.”

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22 Comments

  • Caveat_Emptor February 2, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Not every family is strong enough, nor does every family have the resources, to provide a safe and nurturing long-term environment for a child born with Down Syndrome. The decision belongs to the potential parents, who need to make the necessary assessment. This will have an enormous impact on their lives, for an extended period of time, long after these politicians have moved on to other issues to meddle with.

  • John February 2, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Weren’t the Nazis the ones who murdered the ones they deemed as undesirable ?

  • bikeandfish February 2, 2018 at 11:30 am

    Remember, it is a conservative legislature that is trying to pass a bill that has been deemed to most likely be unconstitutional and that wouldn’t survive a legal challenge. And that is a opinion from lawyers representing one of the most conservative states in the union.
    This is an unconstitutional bill that is meant to intimidate doctors to reduce access to abortion. The law of the land is that abortion is legal and theocrats need to stop forcing their personal preferences down American throats.

  • theone February 2, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Here comes the moral police with their version of christian sharia. These people make me sick!

    • John February 2, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      And murdering babies for convenience doesn’t?

      • theone February 3, 2018 at 10:28 am

        No one is murdering babies John delusional. That only happens in the mind of believers of supernatural BS.

        • John February 3, 2018 at 12:27 pm

          ABORTION IS MURDERING BABIES>>PERIOD…

          • theone February 3, 2018 at 1:55 pm

            Prove it.

          • bikeandfish February 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm

            Triggered much with all caps?

            Abortion is the termination of fetuses, not babies that have been born. Its a legal medical procedure.

          • John February 3, 2018 at 3:21 pm

            An Oklahoma House resolution declares that abortion equals murder and criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court for making the procedure legal.

            House Resolution 1004 directs “every public official in Oklahoma to exercise their authority to stop murder of unborn children by abortion.” The resolution states that “all of human life is protected by God’s law and the law of the land” and claims that the Supreme Court “overstepped its authority and jurisdiction” in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two landmark Supreme Court cases that protect abortion rights in the U.S.

          • John February 3, 2018 at 3:26 pm

            bike and fish , you are the poster child for the pro abortion movement..Loud and uninformed again as always..

          • bikeandfish February 3, 2018 at 6:32 pm

            Fully informed and nothing you have shown discredits my statement. State law is subordinate to US Constitutional protections. Roe v Wade has stood the test of time and isn’t reduced at all by symbolic statements by state legislatures.

            And would for you to go toe toe toe against my biological knowledge. A baby is commonly used after birth. Before then its a blastocyst, embryo and fetus (respectively). Abortion in those stages is heavily regulated.

          • John February 4, 2018 at 12:22 am

            In the 1930’s, Margaret Sanger created the “Negro Project“–designed to “kill off the black race”–and her ideas on eugenics inspired Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, culminating in the slaughter of over six million Jews. While Hitler was a successful murderer, gas chambers were messy and hard to hide. Today, with the advances of science, Planned Parenthood murders its victims inside the womb, making it neater and easier to hide.

            The advance of technology has helped Planned Parenthood in other ways. Science now makes it easy for these murderers to identify their victims if they possess certain undesirable traits, such as: being the wrong sex, being the wrong race, or possessing so-called genetic defects such as Down’s Syndrome. And the organization founded by Hillary Clinton’s hero doesn’t like it when government interferes with their use of this technology to murder-at-will.

          • bikeandfish February 4, 2018 at 10:31 am

            You quoted an opinion piece from Red State? The link they even provide doesn’t provide evidence that Sanger inspired Hitler.

            More importantly, this Sanger-meme extremists like you on the right are pushing is fundamentally wrong. Much of her writing is cherry-picked and intentionally used to malign the overall goal of the Negro Project, ie to provide family planning and birth control services to impoverished and underrepresented black communities in the south. Sadly, “positive eugenics” and racism still informed much of American thought then but comparing it to Hitler is a laughable display of idiocy that deserves no respect for its malicious poliical intent. Sanger was an imperfect woman but so were most white people of the 30s when viewed through the lense of race. I would suggest anyone interested in that program actually read non-partisan historical reports not the extremist rhetoric of John’s plagarized comment from Red State.

          • John February 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

            boo hoo! BIKE AND FISH…YOU LOSE AGAIN.. You just can’t get over yourself can you? and you wonder why I always ridicule you publicly…hahahahahahahahahaha!

          • bikeandfish February 4, 2018 at 5:44 pm

            I’ve never wondered why you insult people as its the primary MO of trolls like you. You always lack substance or any intelligence on the relevant issues so you resort to your hateful ways.

          • John February 4, 2018 at 7:32 pm

            Bikeandfish, Nobody sticks to the fake news quite like you do, Don’t you ever question anything? . Apparently you just accept what you read at what it is, you never actually fact check anything.. as long as you continue to post such long winded gibberish I will continue to call you a pompous blowhard snowflake, You saw it on CNN so it must be true…hahahahahahahaha!

  • Who February 2, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    So,,,sharia-Are you referring to killing somebody that doesn’t deserve to be killed?

  • DRT February 2, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I very seldom agree with any stance taken by the Acluless. But this one I have to agree with them on. What is with these jerks offs trying to pass laws they know will end in a court battle? Are they just trying to make work for their lawyer buddies?

  • PlanetU February 2, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Not fair. Discrimination? Spare me.

  • jaybird February 3, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    A woman should make her own decisions, not HAVE them made by a bunch of people who will take no responsibility over an unwanted pregnancy. Calling it murder is a self righteous way to give someone else power to weild control over another. Once the pregnancy is aborted, no one will ever be the wiser. Go to another state where abortion is strictly a private matter between the woman and her doctor. They nor the church will be around to raise the child anyway. You medical decisions are no ones business but your own.

    • bikeandfish February 3, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Its already rough enough in Utah as it is. Only two providers that offer abortions and they are located in SLC which means many women have to travel hours or ultimately out of state. On top of that there is a 72 hour waiting period before the procedure can be done. I understand face-to-face consent but the waiting period is unconscionable. Most women don’t come to the decision in a rush but when its needed they should not be forced to wait instead they should be treated with the dignity and agency consistent with other medical procedures.

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