Bill that would halt abortions based on Down syndrome one step closer to passing

A newborn baby with Down syndrome nestles into a blanket. A bill that is now heading into the Utah state Senate would ban doctors from performing abortions on women who are seeking one because their fetuses have been diagnosed with Down syndrome | Photo by Eleonora_os/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Abortions for unborn children with Down syndrome may soon be illegal in Utah if a controversial bill passes the state Senate and ends up on Gov. Gary Herbert’s desk.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, is sponsoring a bill that would ban doctors from performing abortions on women who are seeking one because their fetuses have been diagnosed with Down syndrome | Legislator profile photo via, St. George News

The proposed Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Act, designated HB 205 in the 2018 Legislature, would ban doctors from performing abortions on women who are seeking one because their fetuses have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The bill passed the House earlier this month, and was just given a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee, which voted 3-2 in favor of the bill Monday.

The bill now heads to the Utah Senate for consideration, which means the bill is one step closer to becoming a law in Utah.

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

“Some people say these people need to be aborted,” bill sponsor Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, told St. George News. “And I have a big problem with that. I see value in every life.”

The bill has not been without heavy pushback from members of the community and activist groups. More than 20 people spoke during the Senate committee hearing. Medical professionals expressed opposition to the bill and many warned it could not be impervious to a legal challenge if taken to court.

At the House committee meeting in January, a representative for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah threatened legal action taken 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.”

But despite abortions being deemed legal after Supreme Court decisions like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Lisonbee said she believes her bill would be completely lawful and would stand up in court if challenged. Lisbonee said abortions for babies with Down syndrome would be considered eugenics.

“These court decisions were never intended to allow eugenics, which is an issue the courts have come down unequivocally opposed to,” Lisonbee said. “This bill asks a new question.”

Similar laws against abortions for fetuses with Down syndrome are already being challenged in courts in Louisiana, Indiana and Ohio.

There is a lot of misinformation about Down syndrome, and it doesn’t have to be scary to have a baby with Down syndrome, Lisonbee said.

“Most people just don’t have the understanding and knowledge about Down syndrome, and so a lot of their reaction is based on fear,” Lisonbee said. “Then the conversation with their doctor immediately proceeds to abortions. We need to change this and offer other options that preserve the lives of these children.”


Read more: See all St. George News stories related to Utah’s 2018 legislative session

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • comments February 28, 2018 at 11:36 am

    And they’ll be using our tax dollars to drag out a court battle over a law that has no chance of not being struck down. Just how many millions or tens of millions in public money are they willing to throw at it? It just reeks of mormon holier-than-thou moral grandstanding, because that’s exactly what it is. Mormon LDS republicans, if you’re going to spend millions on a circus, have it be a circus that can achieve something productive. Maybe look into why so many mormon LDS youths here in UT are committing suicide? Why does the supposed moral superiority of the LDS religion always seem to fall on it’s ass? I’ll tell you why, because so many of you are hypocrites.

    And I’m not a fan of abortion in a general sense, but if any fetus were to be chosen for abortion I’d say downs fetuses should be first in line.

    • Striker4 February 28, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      LOL. talk about a load of b.s from the Prophet Bob. ( comments ) blah, blah, blah, blah, blah

  • Who February 28, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    CHOOSE???? really????

    Oh, that’s right, your live is worth more. I forgot.

    • comments February 28, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      who are u even talking to?

  • Caveat_Emptor February 28, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Another stupid piece of legislation designed to rattle a few remaining liberal-leaning constituents…..The ACLU will make short work of this unconstitutional law, if your gov fails to stop it with a veto.
    I would question the motivation of the bill’s sponsors who are providing plenty of billable hours to SLC-based law firms. This could be as lucrative as the lawsuit against the State of California’s electricity souorcing plans…….
    We already have hundreds of thousands of young families doing their best to raise their kids, who are on a normal trajectory for development, and it is not easy.
    The decision to have, then raise a child is tough enough, without adding the complexity of a developmental challenge. That decision should be left exclusively to the prospective parents, who will be permanently responsible for the huge emotional and financial investments to raise the child. It is their decision, not a bunch of disconnected legislators.

    • comments February 28, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      When those with downs start to become older and their parents become incapable or unwilling to take care of them they will often become a ward of the state. It’s a very sad thing because its extremely rare for a downs individual to ever be capable of living independently. I feel like abortion is the best choice. For the state to want to take away a mothers right to choose in that case is ridiculous. They wouldn’t even expand medicaid to lower income individuals ffs. The hypocrisy of leadership in this state is sometimes amazing, just the absurdity of it.

  • MrPratt February 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Another reason provided to vote democrat in the next election. The republicans in Utah are setting themselves up to lose. Not all of Republican conservatives think like this. This issue is between the woman and her God. Not the woman and the State of Utah.

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