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Judge Allows Selective Abortion For “Down Syndrome”



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LIFENEWS — Many pro-lifers were left speechless, not when U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs issued a temporary restraining order against portions of a pro-life Missouri law but when he did not ban enforcement of HB 126’s ban on abortions for the reasons of race, sex, or that the unborn child may have Down syndrome.

Alas, Judge Sachs partially reneged in a supplemental order issued FridayAccording to Kaitlyn Schallhorn

Sachs left in place the safeguards in HB 126 prohibiting abortions on the basis of sex or race of a fetus. However, he reversed course on the prohibition of abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome for “non-viable fetuses,” citing potential further back-and-forth in courts

When Judge Sachs upheld the prohibition last month, Attorney General Eric Schmitt applauded Sachs’ decision. Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the office, said

“[A]s the father of a child with special needs, Attorney General Schmitt is particularly sensitive to suggestions that an unborn child who will have special needs is any lesser of a human being, and we’re glad that provisions relating to that issue were left in place in the judge’s ruling today.”

Judge Sachs clearly expected plenty more wrangling over HB 126 as a whole, the prohibition against aborting a child because she has Down syndrome, in particular.

Judge Sachs noted, for example, that his ruling might provide the “orderly and thorough appellate consideration of the ultimate merits that was invited by the Supreme Court on this very issue. Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc.). Certainly pro-lifers expect AG Schmitt to appeal Sachs latest ruling to the 8th U.S. Court of Appeals.

There are still hints that Sachs is very uncomfortable with “discriminatory abortions.” He wrote in Friday Supplemental order,

“Common understanding and judicial notice would conclude that a Down syndrome diagnosis (or even a strong suspicion based on testing) would often be received with dismay by a pregnant woman and any family members. If an abortion were sought thereafter, most of us, including an abortion provider, would suppose that the diagnosis was the principal cause of the request, and that a jury or licensing agency would have little trouble with the ‘sole cause’ requirement for a violation.”

Moreover, he referenced a strong dissent by Judge Frank Easterbrook in a comparable case in Indiana. That decision by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck a provision of HEA 1337 that bans abortion for the sole reasons of the child’s race, sex, or a potential disability such as Down syndrome.

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