State joins lawsuit to defend unborn with Down Syndrome

Published 1:21 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2021

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Attorney General Jeff Landry has joined Louisiana to a coalition of 22 states in filing a legal brief at the United States Supreme Court in support of an Arkansas law that would prohibit abortions solely based on a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis.

“An extra chromosome should not and must not mean a death sentence,” Landry said in a statement Friday, May 14. “I stand firm in supporting the rule of law and defending the unborn from eugenic abortion.”

Landry and his colleagues noted in their brief, “people with Down Syndrome add unique joy, beauty, and diversity to our society; yet the abortion of children with Down Syndrome approaches genocidal levels, threatening the Down Syndrome community with complete elimination.”

Landry argues that Arkansas’ law advances at least eight compelling state interests:

  • Protecting the entire class of persons with Down Syndrome from being targeted for elimination solely because of disability;
  • Eradicating historical animus and bias against persons with Down Syndrome;
  • Safeguarding the integrity of the medical profession by preventing doctors from abandoning their traditional role as healers to become the killers of disabled populations;
  • Drawing a clear boundary against additional eugenic practices targeted at disabled persons and others;
  • Countering the stigma that eugenic abortion currently imposes on persons with disabilities;
  • Ensuring that the existing Down Syndrome community does not become starved of resources for research and care for individuals with Down Syndrome;
  • Protecting against the devaluation of all human life inherent in any decision to target a person for elimination based on an immutable characteristic; and
  • Fostering the diversity of society and protecting society from the incalculable loss that would occur if people with Down Syndrome were eliminated.

The state attorneys general also make the argument that Arkansas’ prohibition against Down Syndrome abortions is not per se invalid under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

Joining Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt in the Leslie Rutledge v. Little Rock Family Planning Services amicus brief are the state attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.