Kansas Will Appeal Judge’s Ruling Striking Ban on Dismemberment Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 2, 2015   |   5:40PM   |   Topeka, KS

The Kansas Attorney General said today that the state of Kansas will appeal a judge’s decision striking down a pro-life law that bans dismemberment abortions tearing unborn babies limb from limb. The pro-life law is the first in the nation to ban the gruesome method of abortions.

Here’s a report with the latest:

Lawyers representing Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a notice Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court, saying they intend to ask the state Court of Appeals to overturn last week’s ruling. District Judge Larry Hendricks put the law on hold until he hears a lawsuit filed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights for two Kansas abortion providers.

The law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee and was to take effect Wednesday. Oklahoma has a similar law taking effect Nov. 1, enacted shortly after the Kansas statue.

The Kansas law would ban what it and anti-abortion groups call “dismemberment abortion,” using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a living fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are used in dilation and evacuation procedures.

The lawsuit said such procedures account for 95 percent of second trimester abortions nationally. Hendricks said the Center for Reproductive Rights is likely to prevail in arguing that the state can’t ban the most common second trimester procedure because it places too much of a burden on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.

Hendricks also said the Kansas Constitution independently protects abortion rights at least as much as the U.S. Constitution — a finding the state’s appellate courts previously have not made. The judge initially ruled from the bench after a hearing last week, then issued a written order Tuesday.

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.

When he signed the bill into law, pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback commented, “This is a horrific procedure and we are pleased to ban it in Kansas and we hope it will be banned nationally.”

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The legislation is the brainchild of the National Right to Life Committee.

“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.’”

The bill was carried on the House floor by Rep. Steve Brunk (R-Wichita), with assistance on legal areas by former judge, Rep. John Rubin (R-Shawnee) – both pro-life leaders in the House.

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.”