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ACLU Files a Lawsuit Filed Over Ohio's Ban on Down Syndrome Abortions

A photo of Emily Chestnut and her daughter Nora.

A lawsuit has been filed over a new state law that bans abortion at the point a Down Syndrome diagnosis is made. This legal challenge might mean the law could be put on hold.

Emily Chestnut of Cincinnati has a 6-year-old daughter who has Down syndrome. Sitting before reporters with Nora in her lap, Chestnut argues why she thinks the abortion ban shouldn’t be allowed to take effect.

“When they signed this bill, Gov. Kasich and state legislators used my child as a political tool to promote their own agenda. They don’t care about Nora. If they did, they would be using their valuable time to ensure every child born with Down syndrome has what they need to live a healthy full life.”

Chestnut says Down syndrome children usually require health care services and long term therapies that are generally not supported by lawmakers who passed this new law. And Chestnut says she supports a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. The ACLU wants a U.S. District judge to stop the new law signed by Kasich at the end of last year from going into effect next month. Ohio Right to Life’s Mike Gonidakis disagrees.

Abortion or disabilities?
“This comes as no surprise. Of course the ACLU serves as the private legal counsel for the abortion industry. You know, the American Civil Liberties group truly focuses on abortion and abortion on demand.”

Gonidakis says this new law is about preventing discrimination for disabilities.

“It protects people with special needs. It’s more of anti-discrimination bill than it is an abortion bill but the ACLU is saying no. The organization for which they stand for now says that doesn’t apply if its abortion-related.”

The ACLU’s Freda Levenson says this new law merely masquerades as an anti-discrimination bill.

“The law is not part of a broader legislative package to advance the interests of disability rights community. It’s just the most recent piece in a large strategic campaign to restrict and ultimately, eliminate, abortion access in Ohio.”

The ban is set to go into effect March 22nd. A similar law in Indiana has been put on hold by courts there.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.