Ohio Bans Abortion, Only for Those Diagnosed with Down Syndrome

On Friday, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio signed into law an abortion ban for pre-born babies diagnosed with Down syndrome, making Ohio the third state to do so. A similar law was struck down in an appeals court in Indiana, but a 2013 abortion ban from North Dakota still stands. As with any piece of pro-life legislation, this was primarily met with polarizing reactions from both sides of the abortion debate, with pro-lifers praising the new law and pro-choices fuming over it.

The reaction from pro-choices is expected and typical. When faced with a conflict between the left’s support of anti-discrimination policies and “reproductive rights,” it’s no surprise that they chose the latter, given that the group being discriminated against (pre-born babies) is not one the left has a vested interest in. Similar to straight, white, males getting the short end of the stick with affirmative action in college admissions and hiring practices, the left has no problem with that kind of discrimination.

Pro-lifers, on the other hand, fervently support the new law, which goes into effect in March. But here’s the question no one on the right is asking: should they be supporting it? Yes, yes, any pro-life legislation can be seen as progress, especially if lives are saved in the process, but let’s think about what this law really says and what it means for the pro-life movement as a whole.

The abortion ban protects the lives of pre-born babies diagnosed with or suspected to have Down syndrome, which is absolutely a good thing, especially considering the astronomically high rates of abortion for these children in Western nations. This is achieved, however, by claiming that killing your pre-born child for being diagnosed with Down syndrome is discrimination, but not killing your perfectly healthy pre-born child for any other reason or no reason at all. Though not its intention, this legislation effectively says that only the lives of certain pre-born babies are worth protecting and not the healthy ones killed for convenience issues. Of course, every abortion is an act of discrimination against an immutable characteristic, that of the pre-born child existing in the womb, but it might be too radical to defend every pre-born life all at once.

Incrementalists will argue that this is the only way to approach the issue. It would be crazy to just be honest and come out completely against murdering any pre-born child at any stage of life, right? Clearly, the only way to go about this is to declare that the disabled have worth, first and work their way to defending the abled. They must claim that pre-born babies who do feel pain have worth before those who don’t yet. And they must disavow partial-birth abortion methods before addressing the numerous other ways of tearing pre-born babies apart and ending their lives.

These laws accomplish very little, and there are simple ways around all of them. Mothers could procure an abortion without disclosing a suspected Down syndrome diagnosis, or abortion facilities could neglect to report that information as well. Same with the age of the baby when aborted or the method used for abortion. It’s no secret that Planned Parenthood has no problem lying. (Wait, they don’t provide mammograms? But Cecile Richards told me they do! Next, you’re going to tell me something crazy like that they actually do harvest and sell the organs from aborted babies.)

What does it say about the pro-life movement if nearly 45 years after Roe v. Wade, this is the best supposedly, “pro-life” politicians have been able to accomplish? A popular slogan among pro-lifers today, “My generation will end abortion,” is looking less and less likely if politicians like John Kasich keep championing and campaigning on these snail-paced gains. They do just enough to get the pro-life vote, but not enough to actually matter, and pro-lifers are starting to get tired of being taken advantage of by RINOs.

The pro-life movement is a two-front war, but as headway is made in the culture war, the politicians are failing to adequately hold up their end. The goal is to abolish abortion, not regulate it. So, to all those incrementalist “pro-life” legislators and politicians, do what you were elected to do, what our nation’s children have needed for 45 years, or you will be replaced by someone who will.

Sarah Nahrgang

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