Kentucky ban on dismemberment abortions temporarily blocked

Judge to rule June 5 on motions filed by the ACLU

By Dave Andrusko

Kentucky State Rep. Addia Wuchner

When the District Court for the Western District of Kentucky temporarily blocked Kentucky’s just enacted ban on dismemberment abortions, both sides found something to salvage from last week’s action.

The ACLU, which challenged HB 454 said, “This brings immediate relief to women across Kentucky who have had their appointments cancelled and care delayed if not pushed entirely out of reach.” Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, added, “In the meantime, we’ll continue to fight this law and look forward to seeing the state in court.”

Steve Pitt, an attorney for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, issued a statement in which he said that the order will “expedite an ultimate decision.”

“This matter is now hopefully on track for a faster ruling,” Pitt said, according to Bruce Schreiner of the Associated Press. “The sooner this case is decided, the sooner the commonwealth can stop this horrific and barbaric practice.”

The effect of the joint consent order, as Schreiner explained, is that “state officials agreed to take no action to enforce the law pending a ruling on the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction.”

The ACLU called dismemberment abortions “safe and medically proven.”

In a dismemberment abortion, a living unborn baby is pulled out of her mother’s womb, a piece at a time. The abortionist uses clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, “through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, and /or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”

Elizabeth Kuhn, a spokeswoman for Gov. Bevin, said that the lawsuit was not surprising but was disturbing, Darcy Costello of the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

“Kentucky’s elected representatives voted overwhelmingly this session to safeguard unborn children against the gruesome practice of live dismemberment abortion,” Kuhn wrote in an email sent to reporters. “Few issues should be as commonsense as protecting the most vulnerable among us from the horrific act of being torn from limb to limb while still alive.”

Eight states had already passed bans on dismemberment abortions: Kansas (2015); Oklahoma (2015); West Virginia (2016); Mississippi (2016); Alabama (2016); Louisiana (2016); Arkansas (2017); and Texas (2017).

“Overwhelmingly” is no exaggeration. The vote in the Senate was 31-5, the vote in the House was an equally one-sided 71-11.

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