Bill that would ban Down syndrome, other selective abortions passes legislature

General Assembly - Raleigh - May 2020
N.C. General Assembly as seen from the grounds of the Capitol building. (A.P. Dillon, North State Journal)

RALEIGH – The N.C. Senate approved a House bill that would prevent abortions, sending the measure to Gov. Roy Cooper.

House Bill 453 would prohibit individuals from performing an abortion unless a physician has confirmed the abortion is not being sought because of the actual or presumed race or sex of the unborn child or the presence or presumed presence of Down syndrome.

During debate in the N.C. House in May, state Rep. Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus) said of the bill, As a child psychiatrist and physician who has spent my life defending the most vulnerable, I think we as a society will be judged by whether or not we protect those who not or cannot speak for themselves. We should all be able to agree that no one should be denied the right to live because of his or her race, gender or disability.”

Currently, six states have laws prohibiting abortions motivated by the race of the child and fourteen states, including North Carolina, already have laws prohibiting sex-selective abortions. Nine other states have prohibited abortions motivated by a child’s disability.

State Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) said the measure prevents discrimination and “modern-day eugenics.”

“Children should not have to pass a genetic test to earn the right to be born,” Krawiec said.

The Associated Press reported that the American Civil Liberties of Union of North Carolina and Planned Parenthood South Atlantic are urging Cooper to reject the proposal.

“Politicians should never have control over private family decisions nor should they force a person to carry a pregnancy to term against their will,” said a statement from Susanna Birdsong, North Carolina director of public affairs of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is unlikely to sign it, having rejected previous pro-life legislation.