A Kansas judge struck down a pro-life law Wednesday that bans dismemberment abortions on nearly fully-formed unborn babies.
The Kansas City Star reports Shawnee County District Judge Teresa Watson said the law is “unconstitutional” based on a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that describes abortion as a “fundamental right.”
Passed in 2015, the law bans dismemberment abortions that tear nearly fully formed unborn babies limb from limb while their hearts are still beating. These types of abortions typically happen in the second trimester. About 600 unborn babies are aborted by dismemberment in Kansas every year.
Because of the legal challenge, Kansas has never been allowed to enforce the pro-life law.
Pro-life leaders in the state responded to the ruling by emphasizing the need for a state constitutional amendment to correct judicial overreach. The Value Them Both Amendment, which declares that there is no right to abortion or taxpayer-funded abortion in the state, is slated to be on the ballot for voters’ approval in August 2022.
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“Value Them Both is the option, it is our only option,” said Brittany Jones of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. “We’re not surprised in any way shape or form. This is what we’ve been telling legislators for two years now, and we had legislators who doubted us. Now we have proof that we were exactly correct.”
Without the amendment, pro-life leaders said the courts could continue to strike down pro-life laws and even force Kansas taxpayers to pay for abortions, as courts in other states have done. For example, West Virginia voters passed a similar state constitutional amendment in 2018 after decades of being forced by a court ruling to fund elective abortions with their tax dollars.
Meanwhile, abortion advocacy groups celebrated the ruling, saying the dismemberment ban was “purely political.”
“Today’s decision reaffirms that ruling and ensures that Kansans have access to the best abortion care,” said Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “This ban made it a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment. This is not about medicine, it’s purely political.”
Kansas was the first state in the nation to ban dismemberment abortions on unborn babies. Since then, 12 other states have joined it: Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, North Dakota, Indiana and Nebraska. However, most are being blocked by pro-abortion legal challenges.
Dismemberment abortion, sometimes referred to as dilation and evacuation (D&E), is a procedure in which the abortionist dilates the woman’s cervix and then uses steel instruments to dismember and extract the baby from the uterus. It is a common second-trimester abortion method that dismembers a nearly fully-formed unborn baby by tearing them limb from limb while their heart is still beating.
In many cases, the unborn babies may feel excruciating pain as they are being dismembered, Dr. Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists testified before the Michigan state legislature previously. She pointed to studies and practices where unborn babies in the second trimester are given anesthesia during fetal surgery to protect them from feeling pain.