Attorneys for the government contend in legal filings that the sidelined 2017 law does not infringe on a woman's constitutional rights — because it “does not prohibit any abortions at all.”
That was certainly not how the measure's proponents in the
“I'm of the mind that it certainly does prevent abortions,” said state Rep.
This and similar proposals around the country have triggered emotional debate over women’s rights, parental love, and the trust between doctor and patient.
The state and federal government will argue Wednesday during a rare hearing before the entire
Opponents, meanwhile, call the law an illegal “reason ban.” They say it undercuts the woman's independent decision-making by attempting to get into her mind, or prevent her from speaking freely with her doctor, as she makes an abortion decision.
Wednesday's high-stakes hearing follows two earlier decisions in which a federal judge and a three-judge panel ruled the law is likely unconstitutional. It's been on hold since it was enacted. The 6th Circuit has moved to the political right recently, based on new appointments by
In another of the
“Why Down syndrome and not spina bifida or cystic fibrosis?" they wrote. “(We) fear it is because those in the Down syndrome community are readily identifiable, sympathetic, and bring so much joy to their parents. But (our) children should not be co-opted to be the sympathetic faces of a political campaign."
Each side will get 25 minutes to make its case to the judges. The state plans to cede five minutes of its time to the
It's unclear whether, if that argument should prevail and the law is upheld, what would be the effect of an abortion ban that “bans no abortions.” Keller said the idea is to make it impossible for a woman to find a doctor willing to abort a pregnancy in which Down syndrome is a possibility.
Gonidakis said proponents are optimistic the court's current, more conservative line-up will rule in their favor.
"We believe that the court is going to identify that this did not indeed fall outside the bounds of what we can and cannot do under the current Roe structure,” he said, referring to the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade case that legalized abortion.
“The state cannot ban abortions before viability. It can't take the ultimate decision away from the woman,” she said. “That's just a sort of bedrock rule."
Yet, she said, “that's exactly what this law does.”