Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a bill into law last night that will ban intact dilation and evacuation, the most commonly used second trimester abortion method. The law, which was written by the National Right to Life Committee, is effective July 1. Brownback signed the measure in a private ceremony, surrounded by NRLC members and pictures of fetuses.
As the New York Times points out, Kansas is the first state to pass a ban on D&E procedures, although it doesn’t use medical terminology; the law, Senate Bill 95, bans what it terms “dismemberment abortion.” The bill uses the most graphic possible description of a version of the procedure, part of a new effort by abortion opponents to push through anti-abortion legislation by using aggressive and sensationalized terminology:
‘‘Dismemberment abortion’’ means, with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, 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.
According to the AP, abortion rights supporters believe the law is subject to legal challenge: it contains no exception for a woman’s mental health, and bans abortions well before a fetus can survive outside the womb. It actually goes out of its way to make clear that there will be no mental health exception, and a fairly narrow definition of what a “medical emergency” could be that would make the procedure legal:
‘‘Medical emergency’’ means a condition that, in reasonable medical judgment, so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert the death of the woman or for which a delay necessary to comply with the applicable statutory requirements will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. No condition shall be deemed a medical emergency if based on a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which would result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.
This is, obviously, meant to be the newest line of attack on abortion rights nationwide; in a statement, Carol Tobias, president of the NLRC, told the Times, “The Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act is the first of what we hope will be many state laws banning dismemberment abortions. This law has the power to transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States.”
Image via National Right to Life/Facebook