The Arkansas Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would ban abortions that target babies with Down syndrome, just ahead of World Down Syndrome Day on Thursday.
The measure, known as the Down Syndrome Discrimination by Abortion Act, is now headed to the state’s House of Representatives for consideration.
Lawmakers passed the bill in a 29-2 vote, without question or testimony, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner (R) and would “require a doctor to ask a woman seeking an abortion if she is aware of any test results, prenatal diagnosis or any other reason that the unborn child may have Down syndrome,” the paper wrote.
Pregnancies resulting from rape or incest are exempt under the proposal, as are instances where an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.
If the bill becomes law, any physician who violates it could be charged with a Class D felony, face civil penalties, and lose his medical license. Any woman who receives or pursues a termination of pregnancy due to the fetus having Down syndrome would not be held liable, but instead would be afforded the same rights as a crime victim.
Sen. Garner told the Democrat-Gazette he crafted the legislation so that those diagnosed with the condition in his state “have a chance to live.”
“There is an epidemic across the world for those with Down syndrome,” Garner said. “Facts don’t lie about the menace. In the United States from 1955 to 2011, 67 percent of those with Down syndrome never saw their first birthday.”
The Republican said that Iceland is the “worst place in the world to be made with Down syndrome.”
“Every single child with Down syndrome, nearly every single one of them [in that country], is aborted,” he noted.
According to CBS News, North Dakota has a similar law already on the books, which protects babies with genetic abnormalities from being aborted, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) signed a measure into law last week that bans abortions on the basis of a fetus’ gender, race, or disability.