A Pennsylvania legislative committee today passed a pro-life bill to ban dismemberment abortions that tear off an unborn baby’s limbs.
The state House health committee voted for the bill today, which now heads to the full state House for consideration.
House Bill 1948 — introduced by Rep. Kathy Rapp of Warren County, on Friday and chiefly co-sponsored by Reps. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria County, and Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster — would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestational growth. The current limit is 24 weeks.
It would also put restrictions on dilatation and evacuation abortions, referred to as “dismemberment abortions” in the bill.
In their sponsorship memo, the three representatives said they were prompted to introduce the bill after hearing stories of babies being born prematurely at 20 weeks.
“This has been shown to be when all babies are capable of feeling pain and when the likelihood of a substantial complication for the mother seems to increase,” the memo said of the ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
“The description sounds ghastly, uncivilized, and definitely inhumane. Yet it is a practice that takes place each year in Pennsylvania, killing an estimated 1,550 babies,” says Maria Gallagher of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.
“The doctor, often guided by ultrasound, inserts grasping forceps through the woman’s cervix and into the uterus to grab the fetus. The doctor grips a fetal part with the forceps and pulls it back through the cervix and vagina, continuing to pull even after meeting resistance from the cervix. The friction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed. A doctor may make 10 to 15 passes with the forceps to evacuate the fetus in its entirety, though sometimes removal is completed with fewer passes. Once the fetus has been evacuated, the placenta and any remaining fetal material are suctioned or scraped out of the uterus. The doctor examines the different parts to ensure the entire fetal body has been removed.”
–U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing in the ruling known as Gonzales v. Carhart
“Kennedy was describing a dismemberment abortion—a type of abortion which was considered an alternative to the partial-birth abortion banned by the Supreme Court,” Gallagher said. “But it was clear from his writing that Kennedy found the alternative highly troubling.”
Gallagher said a full House floor vote could come soon.
“Dismemberment abortions typically occur in the second trimester of pregnancy. They involve tearing a baby limb by limb from the mother’s womb. They are also known as a D & E abortions. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “No one would dispute that, for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life,”” she said.
The legislation is the brainchild of the National Right to Life Committee.
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“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.”
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…”
“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.”
Action Item: Late-term dismemberment abortions are a horrible way for children to die, and can flood mothers’ hearts with profound and debilitating grief. Please join the campaign to end dismemberment abortions in Pennsylvania. If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, call your state representative and urge him or her to support House Bill 1948, the ban on dismemberment abortions. You can find your state rep here: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address .