Bioethics News

Kansas passes novel anti-abortion bill

Governor Sam Brownback   

The fierce battle over abortion legislation in the US has taken another turn – this time in Kansas. On Tuesday Republican governor Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that bans the controversial “dilation and evacuation” abortion procedure. The bill, drafted by the National Right to Life Committee to Kansans for Life, was approved by a significant majority in both the senate and legislature.

In this procedure, the woman’s cervix is dilated and the foetus removed using a surgical vacuum, forceps, a curette, and other instruments.

The bill gives the procedure the dysphemistic name ‘dismemberment’. It is banned except when necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent irreversible damage to her physical health. Doctors cannot use forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces. Pro-life groups have welcomed the law as a positive step toward stemming the high abortion rate in the US.

Two abortion rights groups that operate Kansas clinics with abortion services, Trust Women and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, plan to challenge the law. They believe that it is vulnerable as it bans some abortions before a foetus can survive outside the womb and contains no mental health exception for the mother. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.