The governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate John Kasich signed into law on Friday a controversial state bill that would ban abortions after a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome.
The legislation, which cleared the GOP-led Legislature with some Republican opposition, makes it a crime for a doctor to end a pregnancy based on knowledge of Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and medical conditions such as heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems.
It makes performing an abortion in such cases a fourth-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and requires the state medical board to revoke a convicted doctor’s license. Pregnant women involved in such procedures won’t be penalized. The law will go into effect in 90 days.
Kasich, despite signing the bill, has mentioned in the past that he had concerns about the bill being unconstitutional, according to Cincinnati.com. That led him to veto a separate bill in 2016, which proposed a ban on abortions done after six weeks of gestation.
The anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life said that the bill’s signing into law was a victory. “Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life” the group’s president, Mike Gonidakis, said in a statement on Friday.