Down syndrome orgs, women’s group support Indiana law banning disability-, race-, sex-based abortions

Alliance Defending Freedom, Bioethics Defense Fund attorneys file brief with 7th Circuit
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Attorney sound bite:  Denise Burke

CHICAGO – Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Bioethics Defense Fund filed a friend-of-the-court brief Tuesday with a federal appeals court on behalf of three Down syndrome organizations and a grassroots women’s advocacy group that support an Indiana law banning abortions based solely on a child’s disability, race, or sex.

A federal district court stopped the law from going into effect after Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky filed suit. Indiana officials appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. ADF and BDF attorneys filed their brief with the 7th Circuit on behalf of Fondation Jérôme Lejeune, Saving Downs, and Down Pride, which aid and advocate for people with Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities. Also joining the brief is Women Speak for Themselves, a national grassroots organization empowering women to speak out on important issues including abortion.

“Every innocent life deserves to be protected, and that’s especially true of babies being singled out for death simply because of their disability, sex, or race,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Burke. “Nothing is medically necessary or constitutionally protected about an abortion that is committed simply because a child has Down syndrome or isn’t the desired race or sex. The fact that Planned Parenthood is opposing a law like Indiana’s tells you what America’s number one abortion supplier really cares about.”

“This is a case of modern eugenics because it addresses prenatal testing to target and eliminate a class of human beings based on sex or disability discrimination,” said Bioethics Defense Fund Senior Counsel Dorinda Bordlee, lead counsel on the brief. “Eugenic abortion devalues not only the unborn with disabilities, but also devalues individuals born and living with disabilities.”

In March 2016, the state of Indiana enacted the Sex Selective and Disability Abortion Ban, limiting abortions sought solely for certain reasons. The law specifically provides that a “person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion before the earlier of viability of the fetus or twenty (20) weeks of post-fertilization age if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking” an abortion “solely because of the sex of the fetus,” “solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with, or has a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability,” or “solely because of the race, color, national origin, or ancestry of the fetus.”

As the brief filed in Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health explains, the Indiana law “survives constitutional scrutiny because the Supreme Court has never recognized a right to abort an unborn child because of his or her sex, genetic abnormality, or disability and because it furthers the State of Indiana’s interest in protecting unborn human life by preventing sex and disability discrimination against unborn children. It also promotes the State’s interest in drawing a clear boundary against postnatal eugenic infanticide.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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