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A Federal Judge Blocks a Ban on Down Syndrome Abortions in Ohio

A United States District Court judge in Cincinnati on Wednesday temporarily restricted enforcement of a recently passed Ohio law that criminalizes abortion of a fetus that's been diagnosed with Down syndrome, deeming the state's law violates the privacy of women in the state seeking abortions, the Toledo Blade reports.

The temporary ban on the law will benefit women who have sought abortions with the belief or knowledge that the fetus has Down syndrome. The new law was set to take effect on March 23rd, to ban abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. According to the Blade, the judge stated the new law would violate women's privacy rights and their rights under the law to seek an abortion before the start of the viability period after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

"Federal law is crystal clear: 'a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability," wrote Judge Timothy Black. "Here, Ohio's new law wrongfully does just that: it violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face."

There will be a hearing to determine if the temporary ban should be made permanent.

Supporters of the law, including Ohio Right to Life, argue it seeks to prevent discrimination against those with the chromosomal defect that leads to Down syndrome.

For Ohio doctors, the criminalization of abortion could lead to up to 18 months in jail, a fine, and loss of their medical licenses. Three abortion clinics challenged the initial bill and the ban offers a temporary form of protection for the doctors and women seeking abortion.

"The court rightfully saw through Ohio lawmakers' thinly veiled attempt to criminalize abortion and interfere in a woman's personal health decisions," Freda Levenson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, told the Blade.