TALLAHASEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – New legislation filed at the State Capitol would ban so-called ‘disability abortions’, making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy because a child is likely to be born mentally or physically impaired.
In the US, 65 percent of fetuses diagnosed with down syndrome are terminated. In countries like Iceland and Denmark, it’s nearly 100 percent.
For Ryan Sprague, the issue is personal.
“My oldest son who just recently turned 17, has cerebral palsy,” said Sprague.
Sprague runs a pregnancy information and help center in the state’s capital and hopes the legislation sparks a conversation.
“I don’t think it says a good thing for our society if we’re choosing who gets to live and who doesn’t get to live based on a quality of life issue that we determine is unworthy of life,” said Sprague.
The legislation would not make a mother criminally liable for having a disability abortion, but the physician would face a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Opponents like Laura Goodhue with Planned Parenthood argue it is blatantly unconstitutional.
“Families that are facing these very deeply personal decisions don’t want the State of Florida or politicians interfering. And it should really be decisions that are made between doctors and pregnant people themselves,” said Goodhue.
Pro-choice advocates call the legislation yet another attempt to bring a case before the US Supreme Court and overturn Roe V. Wade.
“Roe V. Wade has been the law of the land for 48 years, but opponents to safe and legal abortion are not lacking in Florida,” said Goodhue.
Even Sprague doubts the legislation would hold up in court, but he believes the fact it was filed at all sends a strong message.
“I think it is good for us to protect those who are in most need of protection,” said Sprague.
Last year the disability abortion legislation didn’t get a hearing. It’s yet to be seen if the Legislature has a greater appetite to take on such a controversial topic this year.