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Utah legislature bans aborting babies with Down syndrome; governor likely to sign

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SALT LAKE CITY, March 1, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Utah legislature gave its final approval Thursday to legislation that will ban abortions sought specifically due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, clearing the way for it to be signed into law by pro-life Gov. Gary Herbert.

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 state Senate voted 20-6 to approve the bill Thursday and the state House 54-15 earlier this month, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"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, declared last month. "For a society that claims to uphold tolerance and inclusiveness, it appears we still have a long way to go."

“A Down Syndrome diagnosis shouldn’t be a death sentence,” Pro-Life Utah said in support of the bill. “Selective abortion, for any reason, is the very definition of eugenics. History warns us that this is a very dangerous road to take [...] Utah needs to draw a defining line in the sand and declare loudly to the world, ‘We will not go there!’”

Despite the challenges of Down syndrome, 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 child. Yet around the world, Down syndrome is seen as a justification for aborting preborn children.

In 2015, the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute estimated 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.

Reiterating this week that he is a “pro-life guy,” Herbert said he wouldn’t commit to signing any bill until he has personally evaluated its final language, but indicated that he would likely support it. “If that’s the reason that you want to have an abortion, that’s probably not a good reason,” he said.

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