23 States Tell Supreme Court to Support Kentucky Law Banning Dismemberment Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 23, 2021   |   9:44AM   |   Washington, DC

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron received support from 23 state attorneys general this week in his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend a pro-life law.

Fox News reports Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich led the states in filing an amicus brief to the Supreme Court after the court agreed to hear Cameron’s case in March.

At issue in the case is whether Cameron, a pro-life Republican, may take up the defense of the Kentucky dismemberment abortion ban after pro-abortion Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear refused to do so. A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel previously denied Cameron’s request.

“By a 2-1 vote, a Sixth Circuit panel allowed the unilateral capitulation of a single official to be the final word on whether a fully enacted law would be invalidated (and thus de facto repealed),” the state attorneys general wrote in their brief. “It did so even though Kentucky’s attorney general, who has unquestioned authority to represent Kentucky in federal court, timely sought to defend the statute on the merits.”

Cameron is dedicated to defending unborn babies from abortion. He said the 2018 law bans a “gruesome live dismemberment abortion procedure” that involves tearing second-trimester unborn babies limb from limb while their hearts are still beating.

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“This law reflects the conscience of Kentucky by banning the gruesome practice of live dismemberment abortions, and it’s important that Kentuckians have a voice before our nation’s highest court,” he said in a statement in March. “I was elected to provide that voice, and we look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court.”

He has the support of nearly half of all American states in the new amicus brief. Their attorneys general said the case is important for all states, not just Kentucky.

“States have a compelling and indisputable sovereign interest in defending the constitutionality of their laws when challenged in federal court,” they told the Supreme Court.

Joining Arizona in the brief were Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, according to the report.

“I am proud to lead this coalition of 23 attorneys general who will uphold the rule of law regardless of political pressure,” Brnovich told Fox News.

Cameron’s right to defend the law, not the constitutionality of the pro-life law itself, is the issue of the case, Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

If Cameron wins, then his office will be allowed to defend the law, which currently is blocked under a separate legal challenge filed by the EMW abortion facility in Louisville. The American Civil Liberties Union also is involved in the case.

The 2018 law prohibits abortions “that will result in the bodily dismemberment, crushing or human vivisection of the unborn child” while he or she is still alive. These gruesome methods commonly are used in D&E abortions in the second trimester.

According to state health data, 537 of the 3,312 abortions in Kentucky in 2016 were D&E abortions.

Soon after the legislature passed the law, a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing it, arguing that it creates a “substantial” burden to a woman’s right to an abortion.

Dismemberment abortion 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. 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.

Other states with dismemberment abortion bans include Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. The abortion industry is challenging many of them in court.

The legislation is built in part on the precedent set in the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), which upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban and scaled back the scope of Roe v. Wade. In their opinion, former Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on abortion, 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… No one would dispute that for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.”

“Banning the brutal dismemberment abortion technique is among [National Right to Life’s] highest legislative priorities,” said Ingrid Duran, director of state legislation at NRLC, previously.

“Dismemberment abortion, like partial-birth abortion is a brutal procedure which literally rips a living child apart limb from limb,” Duran added. “In Carhart, the Supreme Court said, ‘No one would dispute that, for many, D & E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.’”