TOPEKA, Kansas — The governor of Kansas has signed a bill into law that bans dilation and evacuation abortions, which involve dismembering babies during their removal from the womb, becoming the first state in the nation to prohibit the practice.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a Roman Catholic, signed SB 95 into law on Tuesday, banning what is termed as “dismemberment abortions.” The bill passed the Senate 31-9 earlier this year and moved to the House where it likewise was approved 98-26.
The law prohibits “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”
The practice is common among second trimester abortions—as early as 14 weeks—as the child’s heart is stopped and then the body is extracted in pieces and arranged on a tray to ensure that all the parts have been removed from the mother.
“This is a horrific procedure,” Brownback spokesman Eileen Hawley told reporters. “He hopes the nation follows suit.”
While the bill prohibits the practice, it also notes that it does not apply to “an abortion which uses suction to dismember the body of the unborn child by sucking fetal parts into a collection container,” or vacuum aspiration abortions, which are commonly performed in the first trimester. It also provides exceptions for the life and physical health of the mother.
The legislation, which was influenced by model language from the National Right to Life Committee, has been opposed by pro-abortion groups. Trust Women and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri state that they are now considering filing a lawsuit to challenge the ban in court.
“Kansas is now not only the sole state with this atrocious law; it also now has more restrictions on abortion than any state in the U.S.,” Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri commented on social media.
“This dangerous law dictates to qualified physicians how they can practice medicine and treat their patients,” Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, also remarked in a statement.
The groups also state that they oppose the law because it does not contain a mental health exception and prohibits the practice before a time when the baby can survive apart from his or her mother.
However, some do not believe that gestational age makes the child any less human.
“They tear the baby out of its only means of life support, and say, ‘Wow, look at that; our machines can’t sustain it’s life,’ and somehow, that proves it’s not viable?” Caleb Hogan, played by Austin Kearney, declares in the film “Come What May,” produced by Patrick Henry College students.
Similar bills have been presented for consideration in Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina.