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Fr. Mark Hodges

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Bill protecting Down syndrome babies from abortion passes Oklahoma House in landslide

Fr. Mark Hodges
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, March 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a major pro-life bill on Tuesday prohibiting abortions for Down syndrome or any genetic abnormality.

House Bill 1549, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, won approval in a decisive 67-17 vote. It bans all abortions for the sole purpose of a Down syndrome or genetic abnormality diagnosis.  

An abortionist who knowingly terminates a pregnancy for this reason would be liable for monetary and statutory damages and have his or her medical license suspended. Financial damages would be for "all injuries, psychological and physical" resulting from the prohibited abortion, but statutory damages are limited to "10 times the cost of the abortion."

The law would limit those who can file lawsuits to the mother of the child, the spouse, parent, guardian or licensed health-care provider of the mother, the Oklahoma Attorney General and the District Attorney in the jurisdiction where the violation occurred.

There is a specific clause in the bill stating that the mother cannot be prosecuted under this act. Her anonymity is also strictly protected.

Covered under "genetic abnormality" is "any defect, disease or disorder that is inherited," including "any physical disability, any mental disability or retardation, any physical disfigurement, scoliosis, dwarfism, Down syndrome, albinism, Amelia or any other type of physical or mental abnormality or disease."

HB-1549 has a provision that if challenged in court and found invalid for pre-viable babies it still shall legally apply for all viable pre-borns. "If this section is held invalid as applied to the period of pregnancy prior to being viable, then it shall remain applicable to the period of pregnancy subsequent to being viable" (as defined by Oklahoma statute).

Republican George Faught initiated the legislation. He also championed pro-life bills regarding the humanity of pre-borns (HB-2797), fetal tissue extraction (HB-763), a gender-segregated school bathroom bill, and a bill banning abortion.

“Life is a gift from God,” Rep. Faught said. “Today, I am thankful that the members of the House of Representatives chose to protect that gift.”

Introduced in February, the bill failed to move out of committee after a 4-4 tie, with three Republicans voting with the opposition. Then, less than a week later, the same committee approved the bill moving forward in a 5-2-1 vote as two Republicans, who changed some of the bill's wording, came on line. One was absent.

Opponents of the pro-life bill say it is unconstitutional and will cost the state in legal challenges. Rep. Mike Ritze, who voted for the bill, responded to criticism, saying that constitutionality is "not really for a legislator to decide. That’s for the courts to decide. The budget is important, but moral issues are very important to the people that elect us.”

Abortions because of predicted defects are prevalent in the Western world. In Iceland, pre-born children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted

In Denmark, officials claim the country will be “Down syndrome free” through abortions in the next 10 years. Ninety percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are aborted in Great Britain and the United States.

But studies show 99 percent of people with Down syndrome are happy with their lives, 97 percent like who they are, and 96 percent like how they look.

And genetic diagnoses are often wrong. Patricia Miles' doctor said her son had a genetic abnormality. “My health was in danger, they said. They said he was going to have Down syndrome; I should abort,” Miles said with the now-five-year-old by her side. “I was perfectly fine. He's perfectly fine.”

Faught also sponsored a bill similar to the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act last year, but it didn't pass.

HB 1549 has been sent to the Oklahoma Senate, which had the bill's first reading on Wednesday.  If the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act passes, the law would go into effect November 1, 2017.

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