Arkansas Mulls Bill That Would Ban Abortion In Cases Of Down Syndrome

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The bill does not improve access to care for parents raising children with special needs.

Last Wednesday, the Arkansas state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would ban abortions after examinations indicate that the fetus likely has Down syndrome, according to CNN. The proposal, introduced and sponsored by Senator Trend Garner, passed a day before World Down Syndrome Day in a 29-2 vote and now moves to the state House.

Garner argued that the bill will curb discrimination against individuals with Down syndrome by making it illegal to perform abortions solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

"I decided to push the bill forward to protect those that were born differently," Garner said in an interview with CNN. "Through the disastrous procedure of abortion, we lose valuable and special people from society." The proposed bill states that doctors would have to inform patients of the law, ask a pregnant woman if she has received test results, and ask for medical records. For at least two weeks, the physician is prohibited from performing the operation to obtain the records.

There are exceptions to the proposed law: if the pregnancy endangers the life of either the mother or unborn child, or if it is a result of incest or rape, a physician may perform the abortion. If the bill becomes a law, physicians who break it would face up to six years in prison and have their medical licenses revoked. The woman who undergoes the abortion with full knowledge of the law would not face legal punishment.

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