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June 19, 2018

Banning Abortion in Cases of Down Syndrome: Important Lessons for Advances in Genetic Diagnosis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Georgetown University Law Center, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Washington, DC
JAMA. 2018;319(23):2375-2376. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.6118

In December 2017, Ohio passed into law legislation that prohibited physicians from performing abortions if the pregnant woman’s decision was influenced by her belief that the fetus has Down syndrome. Physicians who perform abortions in these cases would face fourth-degree felony charges and revocation of their medical license. No other state bans abortion specifically for Down syndrome, but several ban abortions in cases of genetic diseases. Lower courts have struck down most such laws, holding they violate the constitutional rights of women. In February 2018, a federal district court judge blocked enforcement of Ohio’s law pending a final determination.

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