Attorney General Cameron Files Amicus Brief Protecting Unborn Children with Down Syndrome From Discriminatory Abortions

Frankfort, Ky. (Jan. 23, 2020) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined Indiana and 16 additional states in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals urging the Court to uphold an Ohio law banning abortions where a doctor knows that the abortion is sought because the unborn child has Down syndrome.  A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit initially invalidated Ohio’s law, but the entire Sixth Circuit, which has more than a dozen judges, recently agreed to rehear the case.

The amicus brief argues that while current legal precedent provides that a woman can have an abortion, these cases do not suggest that there is a right to decide whether a child can live or die based on a perceived disability, such as Down syndrome.

Disability-selective abortions on unborn children with Down syndrome are discriminatory against the unborn child, the brief further argues, and promote harmful eugenic goals that allow individuals to end the life of an unborn child based solely on preferred characteristics.

As fetal screening technology improves, medical and physical characteristics of unborn children are identified at an earlier stage of pregnancy.  This advancement has already led to alarming statistics regarding the termination of pregnancies following a Down syndrome diagnosis.  In China and Western Australia, in utero Down syndrome diagnoses have led to abortion rates of more than 90 percent.  Following the introduction of prenatal screening in Iceland, “‘close to 100 percent’ of women who receive a test result indicating Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy.”

Last year, Kentucky’s General Assembly passed House Bill 5, an anti-eugenics bill similar to the Ohio law, which bans abortions based upon the race, sex, or perceived disability of an unborn child.  Kentucky is one of eleven states to pass statutory restrictions against such discriminatory abortions.  A federal judge in Louisville has stayed Kentucky’s law, while its constitutionality is being litigated.  The Sixth Circuit’s decision on the Ohio statute could have broad implications as to Kentucky’s law.

“Every life has value, and we cannot allow abortion to pre-determine the characteristics of an entire generation,” said Attorney General Cameron.  “The passage of HB 5 last year made it clear that Kentucky will not stand for discriminatory abortions, and we have a duty to assist other states in their defense of similar laws.”

Attorney General Cameron co-authored the brief with Indiana, and it was filed with Attorneys General from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

To view a copy of the brief, click here