In Bizarre Stunt, Governor Pretends To Sign Extreme Abortion Ban For Group Of Teenagers



Three weeks ago, Kansas became the first state in the country to ban a specific type of second-trimester abortion procedure, after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a so-called “dismemberment” ban in a closed-door ceremony. But Brownback isn’t stopping there.

According to a photo tweeted out by Brownback’s office, the governor was flanked by large photos of fetuses as he approved Senate Bill 95 at the beginning of April. A few days later, Oklahoma followed in Kansas’ footsteps and approved an identical measure. Perhaps seeking to solidify Kansas’ status as the first state to venture into this area, Brownback is now taking it a step further.

On Tuesday, the governor traveled to four different cities across Kansas to reenact the signing of SB 95 in public ceremonies that teenagers could attend. The events took place at a Catholic church education building and three Catholic high schools.

“I am profoundly disappointed that Governor Brownback has chosen to hold a publicity tour for this reprehensible law,” Julie Burkhart, an abortion provider who operates the South Wind Women’s Center and founded the political action committee Trust Women, said in a statement. “Reenacting this bill signing in front of children is not only a publicity stunt, but also spreads hate and disrespect.”

“Dismemberment” is not a medical term. The new laws seeking to outlaw this procedure are relying on evocative language to target the most common form of second-trimester abortion — a process known in the medical community as Dilation and Evacuation, or “D&E.” Burkhart’s organization is opposed to SB 95 because it prevents doctors from providing their patients with the best care available, and its vague language could end up making it too risky for doctors to offer any surgical abortion procedures whatsoever.

The tactic evokes a very similar fight that played out over a different type of abortion procedure called Intact Dilation & Extraction, or “D&X.” Abortion opponents dubbed that procedure “partial-birth abortion” — which, like “dismemberment,” is not a real medical term — and enacted a flurry of state laws to prevent it from being performed. Eventually, the issue made its way up to the Supreme Court, and the justices banned D&X procedures nationwide.

The state-level measures targeting D&X and D&E are both spearheaded by National Right To Life, one of the legislative arms of the anti-abortion movement that works on developing draft laws. In a statement released after Brownback first signed SB 95, the president of National Right To Life said that the new law represents “the first of what we hope will be many state laws banning dismemberment abortions.”

Abortion providers in the state have indicated that they’re prepared to sue to prevent SB 95 from taking effect this July. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has requested half a million dollars in taxpayer funding to defend the law in court. That’s on top of the more than $1 million that Kansas has already spent defending its harsh abortion laws over the past several years, despite budget shortfalls in other areas like public education.

“Those of us who trust women to make their own health decisions condemn Governor Brownback’s actions and urge him to focus on the issues plaguing our state instead of publicizing this atrocious law,” Burkhart’s statement concludes.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress