CINCINNATI — Pro-life leaders praised a federal appeals court decision upholding an Ohio law that prohibits a doctor from knowingly performing an abortion because an unborn child has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned in a 9-7 opinion Tuesday (April 13) a preliminary injunction endorsed by its own three-judge panel against Ohio’s 2017 Down Syndrome Non-discrimination Act.
The ruling provides the U.S. Supreme Court with an opportunity to resolve divergent decisions between appeals courts. In 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected an Indiana ban on abortions for reasons that include such disabilities as Down syndrome.
The decision came four days after the Sixth Circuit Court announced it would rule “en banc” – or as a full court – on a Tennessee law that requires a woman seeking an abortion to wait 48 hours before undergoing the procedure.
“Too many have used a diagnosis of Down syndrome as a reason to rob preborn children not only of their inherent dignity but also of their lives,” said Elizabeth Graham, vice president of operations and life initiatives for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “That ought to both break our hearts and shock our consciences.”
Graham said in written comments she is grateful the Sixth Circuit “both upheld Ohio’s efforts to protect these vulnerable children and also recently agreed to consider Tennessee’s waiting period law. State leaders are trying to enact common sense measures that protect life, which is the duty of the state.”
The ERLC will continue to support such state efforts “to ensure the health and safety of women and children from a profit-seeking abortion industry and speak to the culture about the sacred dignity of life,” she said.
In October 2020, a federal judge ruled as unconstitutional Tennessee’s law requiring a 48-hour waiting period before a woman could receive an abortion and permanently blocked its enforcement. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court rejected in a 2-1 decision the state’s request for a stay of the injunction while the ruling was appealed. Tennessee responded by requesting the full appeals court to rule.
Tennessee is one of 30 states that have approved waiting periods of either 18, 24, 48 or 72 hours before a woman can undergo an abortion, the NRLC reported. Federal courts have permanently blocked enforcement of Florida’s law, as well as Tennessee’s, according to the NRLC. B&R