Showdown: Unborn Child Dismemberment Ban

September/October 2018

House Bill 454 is one of nine bills in the nation that limits this particularly barbaric abortion procedure.

November 13 marks the start of a multi-day courtroom showdown between the Commonwealth and abortion advocates.

The judge must decide whether to uphold the Commonwealth’s interest in preventing the medical profession and society from becoming “insensitive, even disdainful, to life” in hopes that the medical community will “find different and less shocking methods” or declare a constitutional right to use a particular abortion procedure which often causes death from a loss of blood as the unborn child is “torn limb from limb.”

Kentucky’s House Bill 454, which passed in March with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House (71-11) and Senate (75-13), seeks to ban the particularly brutal and grotesque procedure.

Kentuckians aren’t alone in seeking to exclude the barbaric and gruesome procedure from civilized society. Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia have all passed similar legislation.

Abortionists and the ACLU asserted their right to this abortion procedure, which involves the dismemberment of an unborn child, in a lawsuit filed the day after Gov. Bevin signed HB 454 into law.

As former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy recognized in his dissent in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), this particular procedure means the unborn child often “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”

Kennedy explained that “[s]tates also have an interest in forbidding medical procedures which . . . might cause the medical profession or society as a whole to become insensitive, even disdainful, to life, including life in the human fetus . . . One hope is that the medical community will ‘find different and less shocking methods to abort the fetus in the second trimester’ . . . .”

Federal law already prohibits partial-birth abortion, which involves “extracting the fetus intact or largely intact and then piercing or crushing the living fetus’s skull.” That ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007. Bevin’s legal team argues that the procedure banned by HB 454 “differs in form, but not substance.” They go on to write, “Piercing the skull of a living fetus is gruesome. So is tearing off or cutting its limbs, one by one, while it is alive.”

Abortionists are also facing off against the Commonwealth’s recent ultrasound law which seeks to ensure that mothers are fully informed before deciding to obtain an abortion. The District Court Judge’s declaration that the law is unconstitutional is currently on appeal before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Given the recent confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, there is increased focus on the possibility that Roe v. Wade, which found a constitutional right to abortion, could be overturned. Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, has deemed Kentucky’s ultrasound case as one of thirteen which could provide the Court with that opportunity.

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