Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act and 72-hour reflection period
By Dave Andrusko
On Friday, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Tulsa, Oklahoma, abortionist challenging two pro-life laws.
The immediate issue is whether District Judge Patricia Parrish will grant a temporary injunction blocking the measures–HB1409 and HB 1721–from taking effect. She has scheduled a hearing for October 14. Both laws are due to go into effect November 1.
HB 1721 is titled the “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” and is on the books in Oklahoma and Kansas.
On June 25 Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks issued an injunction that barred Kansas’ first-in-nation law [Senate Bill 95] from going into effect July 1. The judge’s order will remain in effect while the state appeals the ruling. The full state court of appeals will hold a hearing on the matter December 9.
Here’s how HB 1721 is described in a news account, paraphrasing the CRR lawsuit.
HB 1721 bans the most common method of second-trimester abortion, called dilation and evacuation. In the procedure, suction is used to empty the contents of the uterus, followed by the use of forceps to remove uterine contents, and then more suction until the uterus is emptied, according to the lawsuit.
Tony Lauinger, State Chairman of Oklahomans For Life, told NRL News Today, “Contrast that with the statement of Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Medical Director for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who said on camera in the first of the Planned Parenthood videos released this summer regarding the dismemberment (“D & E”) abortions she performs.” Dr. Nuctola said
“You try to intentionally go above and below the thorax so that, you know — we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that — so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
A dismemberment abortion uses sharp metal tools to grab the limbs of a living, well-formed, unborn child inside her mother’s womb. Tiny arms, legs, and other body parts are torn off, piece by piece until the baby bleeds to death.
HB1409, like HB 1721, passed by a huge margin in both houses of the Oklahoma legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. The Sooner state joined Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah in allowing women considering an abortion 72 hours to ponder this life-and-death decision.
Lauinger explained that HB 1409 improves Oklahoma’s current abortion-informed-consent law by increasing from 24 hours to 72 hours the waiting period before an abortion, by requiring that abortion facilities, on their websites, link to the state’s Woman’s Right to Know website, and by providing that mothers considering abortion be informed that “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
“The purpose of the law,” he added, “is to provide a better opportunity for adequate reflection – following receipt of informed-consent information about risks, alternatives, and the development of the unborn child – before undertaking the irrevocable act of taking a child’s life.”
In his dissent to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy observed that in dismemberment abortions, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.”
Justice Kennedy added in the Court’s 2007 opinion, Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion, that D&E (dismemberment) abortions are “laden with the power to devalue human life…”
“It is telling that they never use the words ‘dismemberment abortion’ which accurately describes what happens and which they attempt to sanitize,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, NRLC director of State Legislation. “They know the American people would be horrified to know that unborn children are ripped limb from limb. This particularly egregious procedure is something that the America people will find intolerable.
Spaulding Balch added
“We are convinced that this law is constitutional under the 2007 Gonzales case [which upheld the ban on partial-birth abortions]. The state clearly has an interest in human life and in protecting the integrity of the medical profession.”
A medical illustration of a D&E dismemberment abortion is available here.
Background materials on the bill are available on the National Right to Life website.
Included in the background materials is the testimony of Anthony Levatino, M.D., before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in May 2013, in which he described in great detail the D&E dismemberment abortions he once performed.