Kansas Supreme Court Rules State Constitution Protects Dismemberment Abortion

WASHINGTON – The Kansas Supreme Court this morning ruled that the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act (SB 95) violates the state constitution’s Bill of Rights, which they argue guarantees a “right” to abortion.

In 2015, Kansas became the first state in the nation to pass a ban on the dismemberment of a living unborn child. The bill, which received overwhelming support in the state legislature and was signed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback, was based on model legislation developed by National Right to Life. Since then, eleven other states have passed similar measures. The law is currently in effect in two states, Mississippi and West Virginia.

“Dismemberment abortion kills a living unborn baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said Ingrid Duran, National Right to Life director of state legislation. “It is unconscionable that the Kansas Supreme Court would allow living unborn babies to be killed in such a gruesome manner.”

“This horrendous ruling is due to the Court’s false claim that there exists a ‘right to abortion’ in our 1859 state constitution,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life. “The Court believes this unstated, so-called ‘right’ somehow trumps 45 years of citizen efforts that have cut the number of abortions in half, increased women’s right to know protections, and resulted in the first state law to send the heinous dismemberment abortion method packing.”

Dismemberment abortions are as brutal as the partial-birth abortion method, which is now illegal in the United States because of the 2007 United States Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart.

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 in Gonzales v. Carhart, which upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, that D&E abortions are “laden with the power to devalue human life…”

“Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place,” Duran added. “Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”

A medical illustration of a D&E dismemberment abortion is available here:nrlc.org/abortion/pba/deabortiongraphic.

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.