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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert
Calvin Freiburger

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Utah governor signs law to ban Down syndrome abortions if courts sign off

Calvin Freiburger

SALT LAKE CITY, March 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law Friday that will ban abortions sought specifically due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome once a federal court upholds other states’ power to do the same.

House Bill 166 forbids abortionists from committing abortions motivated “solely because the unborn child had or may have had Down syndrome.” It would not take effect until after a “court of binding authority holds that a state may prohibit the abortion of an unborn child” sought for Down syndrome, meaning not until similar bans in other states have overcome legal challenges.

The measure passed the state House 54-15 and the state Senate 20-6, and Herbert signed it into law without comment Friday, the Associated Press reports. Herbert, who has described himself as a “pro-life guy,” said Down syndrome is “probably not a good reason” to have an abortion.

Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder typically associated with physical growth delays, distinct facial traits, and often intellectual disability. Despite its challenges, a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics found that 99% of people with Down syndrome described themselves as “happy,” and only 4% of parents with Down children expressed regret about having their children.

Yet around the world, Down syndrome is seen as a justification for aborting preborn children. The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that abortion reduces the Down community in the United States by 30%. It has been estimated that 90% of babies in Great Britain to receive a Down syndrome diagnosis are aborted, 65% in Norway, virtually 100% in Iceland, and 95% in Spain.

“In recent years there has been a shocking increase in abortions performed for no other reason than because a prenatal test identified the potential for a trait a parent didn’t like,” state Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, the bill’s sponsor, said in February. “For a society that claims to uphold tolerance and inclusiveness, it appears we still have a long way to go.”

The law’s trigger language means that it shouldn’t provoke a legal battle, but the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed a federal lawsuit against Kentucky for its ban on abortions based on Down syndrome as well as race, sex, and other disabilities, which could lead to the Utah measure either taking effect or being tabled indefinitely.

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