A Kansas judge has temporarily halted a newly-passed state law that bans dismemberment abortions that tear babies limb from limb. Planned Parenthood, which does abortions in Overland Park, and Trust Women, which operates a Wichita-based abortion clinic were behind the lawsuit.
The latest abortion figures in Kansas showed abortions going down but the number of dismemberment abortions, or D&E abortions, rising from 584 in 2013 to 637 in 2014. They constituted 8.8% of the total 7,263 Kansas abortions reported.
The decision from Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks came in a lawsuit filed from the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. The center represents two Kansas abortion providers and argued the law would force women to undergo riskier procedures or forgo abortions.
The judge’s order will stay in effect while he considers the lawsuit further. The new law was supposed to take effect July 1.
The new law would ban doctors from using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a live fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are commonly used in dilation and evacuation procedures.
The group is representing Dr. Herbert Hodes and Dr. Traci Nauser, a father and daughter who perform abortions at a health center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.
In signing the abortion ban, pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback said “This is a horrific procedure and we are pleased to ban it in Kansas and we hope it will be banned nationally.”
“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”
Kansans for Life Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp, explained that SB 95 bans a particularly gruesome abortion method in which a living unborn child in her mother’s womb is ripped apart by an abortionist using sharp metal tools. In the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the unborn child, “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”[Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 958-959].
“SB 95 bans a particularly gruesome abortion method in which a living unborn child in her mother’s womb is ripped apart into pieces by an abortionist using sharp metal tools,” she said. “Abortionist LeRoy Carhart testified under oath that the unborn child is alive because he is watching him/her on ultrasound during the procedure. In the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the unborn child in a D&E/ Dismemberment abortion, “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.’”
D&E dismemberment abortions are as brutal as the partial-birth abortion method, which is now illegal in the United States and which was upheld in the Supreme Court. But would such an abortion ban be constitutional given the Roe v. Wade decision? National Right to Life points to the high court’s ruling in the partial-birth abortion case as grounds for banning dismemberment abortions too.
In his dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, Justice Kennedy observed that in D&E dismemberment abortions, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.” Justice Kennedy added in the Court’s 2007 opinion, Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion, that D&E abortions are “laden with the power to devalue human life…”
Testimony provided by Kansans for Life emphasized that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ban on the partial-birth method of abortion in 2007 after two cases, Stenberg v Carhart and Gonzales v Carhart. In both cases, the Court closely examined both the partial-birth and D&E/ Dismemberment abortion methods and found them to be “brutal.”
“When abortion textbooks describe in cold, explicit detail exactly how to kill a human being by ripping off arms and legs piece by piece, civilized members of society have no choice but to stand up and demand a change,” added Spaulding Balch. “When you think it can’t be uglier, the abortion industry continues to shock with violent methods of abortion.”