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ADF: States have valid interest in protecting children with Down syndrome

Friend-of-court brief supports Missouri law prohibiting abortion of children because they have Down syndrome
Published On: 11/22/2019
ST. LOUIS – Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend-of-the-court brief Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit asking it to uphold Missouri’s ability to protect unborn children with Down syndrome from fatal discrimination. The brief in Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region v. Parson argues that the state of Missouri has legitimate reasons to prevent abortion from being used as a tool of modern-day eugenics.

“Whatever one’s view on abortion in general, we should all agree that no child should be discriminated against in the womb because of her unique characteristics,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Burke. “It’s painfully evident that those with Down syndrome are being targeted for destruction in the womb at overwhelming rates. And if the state cannot protect them, it cannot protect others.”

The ADF brief explains that a lower court wrongly decided that the Constitution guarantees the right to kill an unborn child simply because she has or may have Down syndrome. The brief argues that to constitutionalize the ability to destroy children in uterobased solely on attributes some disfavor “coarsens society, undermines the medical profession’s integrity, creates perverse incentives to eliminate rather than help those with unique struggles, and stigmatizes those now living with characteristics that the eugenic-minded wish to eliminate.”

“The government must be able to stop a doctor from killing an unborn child simply because she is a girl, has an extra chromosome, or has biracial parents,” said ADF Legal Counsel Samuel Green. “As prenatal testing technologies advance, the eugenic potential for abortion will only increase. The Court should clarify that states can—and should—prohibit eugenic abortions and protect their most vulnerable members from the most extreme discrimination.”

The brief notes that other countries have terminated children diagnosed with Down syndrome at rates as high as nearly 100%, and that medical professionals in the United States abort 67%-90% of those diagnosed with Down syndrome. To stop such tragic occurrences, the brief argues that Missouri “had compelling reasons to act, and it was free to do so. Those with Down syndrome and other vulnerable members of society deserve protection from invidious and fatal discrimination based on their immutable characteristics.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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