N. Carolina Senate considers banning Down syndrome abortions

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina senators are set to consider a proposal Tuesday that would bar women from getting abortions on the basis of their fetus’s race, sex or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

If the Senate approves the proposal, it would head to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who is unlikely to sign it as he has rejected previous efforts to restrict a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Abortion rights groups fear the plan put forward by Republicans and supported by a handful of Democratic lawmakers would compel pregnant women to carry a child to birth and curb their ability to have open conversations with their doctors.

If approved, House Bill 453 would require North Carolina abortion providers to confirm that a woman isn’t seeking to end her pregnancy to avoid having a child with Down syndrome, or a baby of an unwanted race or gender.

Some Democratic lawmakers fear the bill would force women to carry out pregnancies if they tell their doctor that a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome factored into their decision not to go through with the pregnancy, even if it was not the motivating force.

Anti-abortion activists say the plan promotes equality by eliminating a modern-day form of eugenics that has reduced the population of people with disabilities.

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Anderson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.