Lawmakers To Re-Introduce Discrimination Abortion Ban

Multiple states have enacted legislation to prohibit abortion on the basis of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis.

Capitol dome with an American flag waving in the wind.
Capitol dome with an American flag waving in the wind. (photo: Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock)

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress announced on Thursday they would be re-introducing a ban on discrimination abortion, or abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Rep. Ron Estes, R-Kan., and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., have announced their intent to re-introduce the Protecting Individuals with Down Syndrome Act on Friday, the same day as the now-virtual March for Life

In a statement to CNA, Estes said, “It’s tragic that in the United States babies are being targeted simply because they have one more chromosome.”

“This legislation is about ensuring that the rights of individuals with disabilities are protected,” he added. 

In the case of an unborn child aborted based on a Down syndrome diagnosis, the legislation would permit certain relatives of the deceased child to bring civil action against the abortion performers. It also specifies that the mother of the aborted child cannot be prosecuted. 

It is not likely that the bill would be brought to the floor of either chamber for a vote, under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., or Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Multiple states have enacted legislation to prohibit abortion on the basis of a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, R, recently introduced a similar bill in South Dakota. 

Courts have blocked such discrimination abortion bans in several states. However, although the Supreme Court recently declined to consider Indiana’s version of the law, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote at the time that the court has not decided “whether the Constitution requires States to allow eugenic abortions.”

Thomas argued that the “use of abortion to achieve eugenic goals is not merely hypothetical.”

“Put differently, this law and other laws like it promote a State’s compelling interest in preventing abortion from becoming a tool of modern-day eugenics,” he wrote. 

On Wednesday, senators also introduced a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks.

“There are only seven countries that allow wholesale abortions at the 20-week period, including China and North Korea. The United States should not be in that club,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake.

“I don’t believe abortion, five months into pregnancy, makes us a better nation,” Graham stated on Wednesday. “America is at her best when she’s standing up for the least among us, and the sooner we pass this legislation into law, the better.”

The bill was cosponsored by 43 senators. Women receiving illegal abortions under the law would not be prosecuted, and could bring a civil court case against the abortion provider.

The United States Capitol building at sunset in the District of Columbia.

Members of Congress Come Out in Support of Hyde Amendment

In their letter on Tuesday, the Republican members stated that Hyde is estimated to have resulted in more than two million fewer abortions since 1976, “and continues to protect the conscience rights of a vast majority of Americans opposed to publicly funded abortions.”