Indiana Bans Abortions Based on a Diagnosis of Down Syndrome

Lauretta Brown | March 25, 2016 | 1:51pm EDT
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Mike Pence, the Republican

governor of Indiana. (AP) 

( – Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill on Thursday banning abortion based on a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, making Indiana the second state in the nation after North Dakota to ban abortion for that reason.

The Dignity for the Unborn bill says, “Indiana does not allow a fetus to be aborted solely because of the fetus's race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.”

The bill also includes a requirement that aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies be cremated or buried, and a requirement that abortionists who have hospital admitting privileges renew them annually.

The Indiana House passed the bill March 9 in a 60-40 vote.

“I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn,” Governor Pence, a Republican, said in a statement on Thursday.

He said the new law “will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child's sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.”

“Some of my most precious moments as governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome,” Pence added. “These Hoosiers never fail to inspire me with their compassion and these special children never fail to move me with their love and joy.”

(AP photo.) 

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is working with the American Civil Liberties Union on plans to file a legal challenge to the new law, according to the Indianapolis Star.

"Pence fails to grasp basic facts when it comes to reproductive health. Education, coupled with access to all reproductive health services, is the most effective method of protecting Hoosiers. It is clear that the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving as a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate," Betty Cockrum, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement.

Indiana Right to Life praised the new legislation.

“Gov. Pence has long been a champion for the unborn and their mothers,” said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “By signing the dignity for the unborn bill, Gov. Pence has again signified his commitment to protecting life. We are pleased that our state values life no matter an individual’s potential disability, gender or race. We also believe that the other measures in the bill are positive steps forward for providing dignity and compassion.”

"We are so proud of Indiana for taking great strides to curtail abortion and move towards one day making it unthinkable,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, told “Children with disabilities -- and the parents who support, love and care for them -- are treasures and we should make every effort to support families facing uncertain futures in the lives of their children."

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