Kentucky soon may become the next state to protect unborn babies from brutal dismemberment abortions. The House voted 75-13 Tuesday to send the bill to Gov. Matt Bevin, a pro-life advocate who plans to sign it into law.
The legislation would “prohibit an abortion on a pregnant woman that will result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing, or human vivisection of the unborn child” after 11 weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed for medical emergencies.
State Rep. Addia Wuchner, who is sponsoring the bill, previously said dismemberment abortions are “brutal,” “cruel and gruesome” procedures that destroy living unborn babies, the Lexington Herald Leader reports.
“These lives are small and tiny but they are still human,” she told the AP.
However, abortion activists hinted at a legal challenge if the bill passes.
Kate Miller, of the ACLU of Kentucky, told lawmakers: “We believe it’s callous to impose one rule on every single woman without knowing the circumstances of her pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different and we cannot presume to know all the circumstances a Kentucky woman is facing.”
Dismemberment abortion, otherwise known as dilation and evacuation (D&E), is a procedure in which the abortionist first dilates the woman’s cervix and then uses steel instruments to dismember and extract the baby from the uterus. The D&E abortion procedure is usually performed between thirteen and twenty-four weeks LMP, when the baby is somewhere between the size of a lemon and a cantaloupe.
About 500 unborn babies are aborted this way in Kentucky every year, the Courier Journal reports, citing state Department of Health data.
Wuchner described how unborn babies are nearly fully formed when dismemberment abortions take place.
By 11 weeks, unborn babies already have fingers and toes, heartbeats and detectable brain waves. They can respond to touch, yawn, suck their thumbs and even show signs of being right or left handed.
Kentucky is one of several states considering a ban on inhumane dismemberment abortions. These types of abortions typically happen in the second trimester and involve tearing the unborn baby limb from limb while their heart is still beating.
The ban will “preserve the dignity of the DNA-designed fetus,” according to Kentucky Right to Life.
A handful of states already have passed dismemberment abortion bans. In 2017, a federal judge blocked the Texas law, claiming it is unconstitutional. Planned Parenthood is involved in the lawsuit; however, the state is appealing.
The law made Texas the eighth state to protect developing preborn children from such a heinous act. Earlier in 2017, Arkansas enacted the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act joining Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
The dismemberment abortion ban embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee that would prohibit “dismemberment abortion,” using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a living unborn baby to remove him or her from the womb in pieces. Such instruments typically are used in dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures.
The Dismemberment Abortion Ban is built in part on the precedent set in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) which upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, scaling back the scope of Roe v. Wade. In the Court’s opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court’s swing-vote on abortion, indicated a willingness to consider the harms of dismemberment abortions. He described what occurs in a D&E abortion: “[F]riction causes the fetus to tear apart. For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus…” He continued, “No one would dispute that for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.”