In a huge pro-life victory, the Supreme Court today ruled on an 8-1 vote that Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron can defend his state’s ban on dismemberment abortions in court because pro-abortion Gov. Andy Beshear refuses to protect babies from abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in March to hear a Kentucky abortion case to decide if the state attorney general can take up the defense of a pro-life law after the governor’s office refused to do so. Today, the nation’s highest court agreed that Cameron can intervene to make sure unborn babies have an advocate for the law that protects their lives.
Beshear’s administration dropped the case in 2020, but Cameron petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to be allowed to defend the pro-life law instead. The justices considered whether Cameron can intervene in the case. However, did not consider the dismemberment abortion ban itself – at least not yet.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion for the court and Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the sole dissenter.
Cameron previously filed a brief before the United States Supreme Court in support of his defense of House Bill 454.
“HB 454 represents the values of Kentuckians and demonstrates the respect we have for the dignity of life,” said Attorney General Cameron. “These values, set forth in our laws, must be defended at every turn, and it’s my job to step in, especially when other state officials refuse. This brief is the next step in this process, and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Supreme Court this fall to ensure Kentucky’s laws can always be defended by our office.”
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In a previous statement, Cameron’s office expressed hope that he will be allowed to defend protections for unborn babies.
“The U.S. Supreme Court will hear our appeal of the case involving Kentucky’s live dismemberment abortion law. SCOTUS will decide whether my office can defend this important law, which prohibits live dismemberment abortions of unborn children,” the statement read.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, applauded today’s ruling in comments to LifeNews.
“This ruling is a victory for common sense and the rule of law,” Father Pavone said. “An elected official should have the right to defend the laws of his or her state, and eight Supreme Court
justices have upheld that right.”
“The law in question is one that protects babies in the womb from the brutality of a dismemberment abortion, and it’s hard to imagine there were officials in Kentucky unwilling to defend it, but that’s where we find ourselves today. Thank God that the new attorney general, Daniel Cameron, is willing to stand up for these innocent children,” he added.
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser previously applauded Cameron for fighting for the babies: “We commend Attorney General Daniel Cameron for doing everything in his power to defend Kentucky’s pro-life laws, including its ban on barbaric live-dismemberment abortions, which was enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support. State legislators acting on the will of the people have both the duty and the right to protect their most vulnerable citizens – born and unborn. We look forward to seeing this right upheld.”
The case is Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center.
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.
If allowed to be enforced, the law could save hundreds of babies’ lives each year. According to state abortion data, 537 of the 3,312 abortions in Kentucky in 2016 were D&E abortions.
The American Civil Liberties Union and EMW Women’s Surgical Center, an abortion facility in Louisville, challenged the law immediately after it passed.
A federal judge blocked the law and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. When Beshear’s administration decided not to appeal, Cameron filed a motion to intervene in the case.
“We’re exhausting every possible option to ensure that this law continues to be defended and is ultimately enforced,” Cameron said in a statement last year. “The law extends compassion and dignity to the unborn by ensuring they are not subjected to the horror and pain of the dismemberment process while still alive.”
He said he wants to ensure the law continues to receive a full defense.
“We would never allow the dismemberment of any other living being, and we are going to continue fighting, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, so that it can’t happen to unborn children,” Cameron said.
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.
The Dismemberment Abortion Ban is built in part on the precedent set in the U.S. 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 the court’s 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.”