Ohio AG to appeal ruling on law banning Down syndrome abortions

Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is held by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua (not seen) at a hospital in Chonburi province August 3, 2014. | Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Ohio's attorney general has announced plans to appeal a federal judge's ruling that prevented the state from enacting the ban on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

On March 14, Judge Timothy Black issued a preliminary injunction on the implementation of House Bill 214 as abortion providers challenge the constitutionality of the law.

The law, passed by the state's GOP-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich, would impose criminal penalties on medical professionals who perform abortions after learning that the unborn has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Black argued that the legislation is unconstitutional as it violates the right to privacy of women in Ohio.

In a March 15 statement, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced his plan to appeal Black's ruling.

"I strongly disagree with the district court's ruling that there is a categorical right to abortion that prevents even any consideration of Ohio's profound interests in combatting discrimination against a class of human beings based upon disability. We will be appealing," DeWine said, as reported by Catholic News Agency.

Abortion rights group NARAL Pro-choice Ohio lamented that DeWine is wasting taxpayer money by defending a "blatantly unconstitutional" law. The nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission has reportedly found that challenging the legislation could cost the state several hundred thousand dollars to cover the legal expenses for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the legislation was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in February on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, Cincinnati's Dr. Roslyn Kade and several other abortion clinics. The defendants named in the suit include the Ohio Department of Health, state medical board and local prosecutors, including Hamilton County's Joe Deters.

Proponents of the law, including the Ohio Right to Life, have contended that it will save the lives of unborn children and prevent eugenics.

Similar laws have been enacted in a few other states, but the measure in Indiana was also deemed unconstitutional.

Black, who referenced the Indiana decision in his order, has been beset with questions about his impartiality due to his links with Planned Parenthood. He reportedly served as the president of the organization's Cincinnati chapter in 1988 and served as its director from 1986-1989. In 2014, he also recused himself from a case involving Planned Parenthood, following an objection from Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati.

In North Dakota, the sole abortion clinic in the state has decided not to challenge a similar measure, which banned abortions for any genetic anomaly, because it determined that it would not be affected by the law.