On Thursday, Missouri Solicitor General John Sauer defended the state’s law that protects unborn children with Down Syndrome. “People with Down Syndrome are literally one generation away from complete elimination,” Sauer told the three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. “A radical reduction in the number of the class of people with Down Syndrome would inflict an incalculable loss in our society.”
At issue is HB 126, the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, passed by the General Assembly in 2019. The comprehensive pro-life law includes a number of provisions, including bans on abortions at eight, 14, 18 & 20 weeks gestational age and a ban on abortions based on the race or sex of the unborn child or based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state after the bill was signed into law and a federal judge blocked the gestational age bans and the Down Syndrome abortion ban from going into effect in August 2019.
The oral arguments centered on whether the Down Syndrome abortion restrictions violated current abortion case law. Planned Parenthood attorney Claudia Hammerman argued that the 1992 Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, gave an unlimited right for women to receive a pre-viability abortion. Sauer argued that Casey did not decide on whether a state may prohibit an abortion for discriminatory reasons.
We will continue to monitor this case and will update our network when the Eighth Circuit issues its opinion.