On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate voted 37-4 in favor of House Bill 1721, which would ban dismemberment abortions, with exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger. The House voted strongly in favor of the bill back in February, and it now goes to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.
“We applaud the Oklahoma legislature for standing up for unborn children by passing the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “This is a transformative law that has the power to change how the public views the gruesome reality of abortion in the United States.”
The procedure is brutal, as noted by a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 2000. “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,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. “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.”
“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”
Approximately 250 of these abortions were performed in 2013 alone, according to data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “It’s gruesome,” said Sen. Josh Brecheen, a major supporter of the bill.
Amid support for the bill, there were also strong objections. “While women should not have to justify their personal medical decisions, the reality is that nine in 10 abortions in the U.S. occur in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” Angie Remington, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, said. “Abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy is less common, but in all cases, a woman and her doctor need every medical option available.”
Still, pro-life activists were jubilant. “The Oklahoma legislature is to be commended for protecting unborn children and prohibiting this barbaric inhumanity,” said Oklahomans For Life State Chairman Tony Lauinger.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a similar bill into law Tuesday, making Kansas the first state to ban the procedure.
Missouri and South Carolina are currently considering similar legislation.