COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday signed into law House Bill 214, which prohibits abortions if an unborn fetus has or may have Down syndrome.
The bill was sponsored by two Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives – Sarah LaTourette of House District 76 and Derek Merrin of House District 47.
It passed in the House on Nov. 1 by a vote of 64-31, and in the Ohio Senate on Dec. 13 by a vote of 20-12.
Doctors who violate the law will be subject to a fourth-degree felony charge and will have their medical licenses revoked. There is no punishment for the woman seeking the abortion.
The Down syndrome abortion ban was one of 15 bills signed into law Friday by Gov. Kasich. It will take effect next year.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said the new law “does nothing to support families taking care of loved ones with Down syndrome, instead it exploits them as part of a larger anti-choice strategy to systematically make all abortion care illegal.”
“When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome during her pregnancy, the last thing she needs is Governor Kasich barging in to tell her what’s best for her family,” Copeland said in a statement. “This law shames women and will have a chilling effect on the conversations between doctors and patients because of the criminal penalties that doctors will face.”
Ohio Right to Life, meanwhile, thanked Kasich for signing the bill into law.
“Gov. Kasich has signed 20 pro-life initiatives into law in the last six years. He is a pro-life champion, and we are thankful for how he has made it clear that we will not permit this kind of discrimination against people with Down syndrome,” Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said in a statement.
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