Bill to ban abortions based on Down syndrome lives on at Capitol

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – A bill to ban abortions based on Down syndrome will move forward at the Utah State Capitol.

The bill introduced by Representative Karianne Lisonbee and co-sponsored by Senator Curtis Bramble passed the House Judiciary Committee on a vote of 8 to 3 Thursday afternoon.

House Bill 205 the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act is now off to the House for consideration. The bill would make it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion if they know that the woman is seeking the abortion due to the fact that the baby has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or they believe they may have Down syndrome.

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah says the bill “is about restricting access to abortion, not protecting those with Down syndrome.”

Karrie Galloway President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah said in a statement this week that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is "a deeply personal and sometimes complex decision that should be left to a women in consultation with her family, her faith and her health care provider." 

House Democrats who voted against the bill Thursday afternoon released statements about the proposed legislation.

House Minority Leader Brian King stated, “I am disheartened by the degree to which so many of our legislative colleagues seem to believe that government should be free to intrude on the most personal and private medical decisions women can make. It is inappropriate for the government to impose on women the moral and ideological values of a group of legislators who think they know better than the people directly involved. This bill is inconsistent with a legislative agenda that values personal choice and freedom for individuals in the state.”

Representative Mark Wheatley said, “Our friends and family with Down syndrome are indeed inspiring and integral to our community. We also do not wish to enable a culture of discrimination. Of course, we want nothing but the best for our children with Down syndrome. However, this bill fails to adequately address these concerns of discrimination. We should never force anyone to become a parent against their will. These decisions should be made through conversations between patients and medical professionals. I believe that it is not up to state legislators to make those decisions.”

Opponents of the bill call it “legally problematic” and very likely “unconstitutional.”

House Democrats say creating such legislation would be "fiscally irresponsible as the state would likely face waves of lawsuits in opposition."

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