WASHINGTON -- Sarah Palin urged Ohio lawmakers to pass a state bill that would bar women from getting abortions solely because they do not wish to have a baby with Down syndrome, claiming on Sunday that society has pressured women into such abortions.
"Culture has told these women ... you're not capable of being able to handle and nurture and love and raise a child with special needs," the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Ohio legislature is currently considering the bill, which has been endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee. Because a majority of the legislators are anti-abortion and have received support from anti-abortion activists in Ohio, the bill is likely to pass and head to Gov. John Kasich’s desk for his signature. Kasich, a GOP presidential hopeful, has yet to take a position, but he has supported numerous anti-abortion measures in the past.
Palin on Sunday called on Kasich to pledge his support for the bill, citing her own experience raising a child with Down syndrome.
"There is some fear there of the unknown. Certainly, there was fear in my heart about how in the world are we going to be able to handle the challenges up ahead, not necessarily thinking of the beauty that could come from a child being different, being unique,” she said.
"They're amazing, wonderful kids," she added. "They teach us more than we're ever going to be able to teach them."
Because women can undergo prenatal testing to see if their baby will be afflicted with certain diseases and disorders, between 50 and 85 percent of women who discover that their baby might have Down syndrome have chosen an abortion, according to a review of studies conducted between 1995 and 2011. But that number has declined over the years when compared to earlier studies conducted in the 1990s, the review noted.
While supporters of Ohio's bill say that it is not about abortion but rather discrimination against babies with Down syndrome, critics say it likely violates the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which delineates that women can choose to get an abortion at any point until the fetus is viable. The ban would also go against the definition of the right to choose an abortion as a private matter between the patient and her doctor.
The only other state with such a law in the books is North Dakota, which passed legislation in 2013 that goes even further than Ohio’s proposed bill, banning all abortions for any “genetic abnormalities.”