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Reproductive Justice Means Disability Justice Too

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio announced a challenge to block the recently passed state law criminalizing providing an abortion in all cases where the fetus is diagnosed or suspected to be diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Imposing a felony conviction and revoking the provider’s license to practice in the state as a penalty, Ohio Governor John Kasich followed in the footsteps of Indiana and North Dakota when he signed H.B. 214 into law this past December. Although a U.S. district judge struck down the nearly identical Indiana law in September 2017, that did not stop a coalition led by Ohio Right to Life and their Republican allies from attempting this latest attack on access.

The law is an atrocious and unquestionably unconstitutional restriction on abortion. In all likelihood, the ACLU’s attempts to block the law will be successful and H.B. 214 will be ruled unconstitutional. The threat these laws pose do not end there. The anti-choice movement's increasing focus on Down Syndrome and fetal disability represents a cynical attempt to drive a wedge between the disability and reproductive rights movements. Tackling these anti-choice tactics will require more than lawsuits. It will require the pro-choice movement to acknowledge that it has created an opening for this kind of divisive politics when it has failed to respect the importance of disability justice.