ACLU Sues to Overturn Kentucky Ban on Dismemberment Abortions Tearing Off Babies’ Limbs

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 11, 2018   |   4:27PM   |   Frankfort, KY

Just a few hours after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed a law to protect unborn babies from brutal dismemberment abortions, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it.

The law, which passed the legislature in March, went into immediate effect after Bevin signed it Tuesday, but the ACLU hopes a judge will block it soon.

“This law disregards a woman’s health and decisions in favor of a narrow ideological agenda,” Talcott Camp, a spokesperson for the ACLU, told The Hill.

The pro-abortion legal group argues that the law “forces women to either leave the state to undergo the procedure or forego” the abortion, according to the AP.

The law prohibits abortions “that will result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing, or human vivisection of the unborn child” after 11 weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions are allowed for medical emergencies. About 537 unborn babies were aborted this way in 2016 in Kentucky, according to state health data.

Elizabeth Kuhn, communications director for the governor, told WKMS that the lawsuit is “disturbing” because the new law bans a “gruesome” and “horrific” abortion procedure.

Dismemberment abortion 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 procedure is usually performed between 11 and 24 weeks LMP, when the baby is somewhere between the size of a lemon and a cantaloupe.

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.

A handful of states already have 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.

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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.”