Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Gov. John Kasich on Friday signed a controversial bill into law, banning abortions after a prenatal test shows the fetus has Down syndrome.
Under the new law, which takes effect in late March, doctors who knowingly perform an abortion on a woman whose fetus has a Down syndrome diagnosis could be charged with a fourth-degree felony and be jailed for up to 18 months in prison. No punishment is in place for women who seek the abortion.
Kasich had vetoed the "heartbeat bill," which bans abortions after about six weeks gestation and signed a different bill restricting abortions after about 20 weeks.
Proponents such as Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, say the measure will save lives.
"Now that the Down Syndrome Non-Discrimination Act is law, unborn babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are given a shot at life" Gonidakis said. "Ohio is and will continue to be a state that sees the lives of people with Down syndrome as lives worth living, thanks to this legislation."
Opponents say such a law would damage doctor-patient relationships and does nothing to improve lives of those with Down syndrome.
"When a woman receives a diagnosis of Down syndrome during her pregnancy, the last thing she needs is Governor Kasich barging in to tell her what's best for her family," said NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland.