Ohio to get appeal rehearing on Down syndrome abortion ban

Published:
Updated:

CINCINNATI (AP) — A full federal appeals court has agreed to rehear a case about an Ohio law that would prohibit doctors from performing abortions based on a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

A federal judge previously put the 2017 law on hold saying federal law is clear that states can’t limit a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy before viability. The state appealed and a three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the lower court decision in October.

The panel's 2-1 ruling said Ohio's law is probably unconstitutional.

Advertisement - Story continues below

The 6th Circuit on Friday granted Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost's request for the entire court to reconsider the panel's decision.

Supporters have promoted the law as an anti-discrimination measure.

The measure would specifically outlaw abortions in cases where there is a positive test result or prenatal diagnosis indicating Down syndrome. The law said physicians who performs such an abortion could be charged with a fourth-degree felony, stripped of their medical license and held liable for legal damages.

A pregnant woman would face no criminal liability under the law. Abortion rights groups say the law falls into category of restrictions they call “reason bans” for attempting to get into the mind of a pregnant woman as she decides whether to continue or end a pregnancy.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Ohio Department of Health, the state medical board and county prosecutors to overturn the law on behalf of Planned Parenthood and several abortion providers.