TOPEKA, Kan. — The attorney general of Kansas has filed an “intent to appeal” after a local judge halted the enforcement of a law that would ban dilation and evacuation abortions, which involve dismembering babies during their removal from the womb.
As previously reported, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a Roman Catholic, signed SB 95 into law in early April, 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 prohibited the practice, it also noted 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 provided exceptions for the life and physical health of the mother.
But the Center for Reproductive Rights, along with abortionist Herbert Hodes and his daughter Traci Nauser, filed a lawsuit last month to block enforcement of the law. They asserted that since dilation and evacuation is the most common procedure used in late-term abortions, banning its practice might mean that some women would either have to consent to less desired methods or decide against an abortion.
The state argued in return that the law would not end second trimester abortions.
“The Act does not preclude access to safe and effective abortions,” it wrote in legal filings. “Instead, it simply declares one particularly gruesome and medically unnecessary method of abortion to be beyond society’s tolerance level.”
On June 26, Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks granted a stay against enforcement of the law while the constitutionality of the legislation is decided in full in court.
“The alternatives do not appear to be medically necessary or reasonable,” he said. “[P]atients’ fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy will be unduly burdened if SB 95 goes into effect.”
On Wednesday, staffers with Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a notice of intent to appeal, as he seeks to take Hendrick’s temporary injunction to the Kansas Court of Appeals.
“I don’t think there was any doubt in anybody’s mind that this wasn’t going to be another pro-life case that the courts will have to be weighing in on,” Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, told the Wichita Eagle.