Kansas is first to ban 'dismemberment' abortions

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

(Governor Sam Brownback Facebook)Kansas Governor Sam Brownback posted a photo of the private signing of SB 95 April 7. "Proud to sign SB 95 to protect life at its most vulnerable stages. This first-in-the-nation law, passing with bipartisan support, protects unborn children from dismemberment procedures. Thank you to Kansans for Life and the Kansas Catholic Conference for your work on this pioneering legislation."

TOPEKA, Kan.(Christian Examiner) -- Legislation banning dismemberment abortions is now the law in Kansas. The unprecedented measure is the first of its kind across the nation and may set precedent for similar bills under consideration in Missouri and Oklahoma.

"This is a horrific procedure and we are pleased to ban it in Kansas and we hope it will be banned nationally," said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback who signed Senate Bill No. 95 or the "Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act," April 7. The law goes into effect July 1.

The specific technique banned -- dilation and evacuation -- uses various sharp instruments to dismember an unborn child in order to terminate the baby's life. The method is commonly used in second-trimester abortions which occur at 14-26 weeks gestation.

The legislation does make exceptions for the procedure to occur in order to protect the life or physical health of the mother. It does not however allow for procedures on the basis of a woman's psychological health or claims that a pregnant woman will "engage in conduct" resulting in her own harm.

The Kansas City Star reported that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, and Trust Women -- two abortion rights groups offering abortion services in the area -- plan to challenge the legislation in court.

"We will become a bellwether for future introductions of this bill in the states," said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood chapter.

But Mary Kay Culp, a spokesperson from the group Kansans for Life which spearheaded the bill alongside the Kansas Catholic Conference, told Christian Examiner the law is sound.

Making example of the Supreme Court's 2007 decision to uphold the constitutionality of banning the partial-birth abortion method, Culp said the new ban still observes a requirement that there be an alternative method available.

"There is an alternative available to this procedure, which is why we think the Supreme Court will uphold this," Culp said.

In response to claims that D&E abortions are the safest methods for women, Culp argued, "the real reason they (abortion supporters) don't like this method banned is because the alternative method involves more skill by the doctor and perhaps it takes a little longer or costs a little more money because more care has to be taken" of the abortion patient.

Records released by the Kansas Health & Environment Department April 1 showed that in 2014 the D&E method was used in 637 abortions throughout the sate. That number accounted for 8.8 percent of 7,263 total Kansas abortions.

The Governor's website states that a series of public ceremonial signings of the bill will occur on April 28. Locations for the ceremonies have not yet been announced.