Bevin Administration Set to Defend Commonwealth's Live Dismemberment Abortion Law in Court

HB 454 passed overwhelmingly by Kentucky General Assembly

Media Contact: Nicole Burton

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 9, 2018) – Gov. Matt Bevin’s legal team will be in U.S. District Court next week in Louisville to argue on behalf of House Bill 454 (HB 454), which bans the brutal and grotesque practice of live dismemberment abortions.

HB 454, passed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support from legislators and signed into law by Gov. Bevin on April 10, is being challenged by the ACLU and a Louisville abortion clinic.

The Bevin Administration, represented by attorneys from the Governor's Office and from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, will argue that without HB 454, unborn children will continue to be torn limb from limb while still alive — a practice that “would be punishable as a crime were the subject an animal rather than an unborn human.” They will further assert that the new law is in the best interest of the state because it protects the dignity of the unborn and ensures that the ethics of the medical profession in Kentucky reflect the values of the Commonwealth.

“This gruesome procedure, which rips apart a live, unborn child, is antithetical to everything that we stand for as a civilized society,” said Steve Pitt, Gov. Bevin’s general counsel. “HB 454 recognizes the dignity of human life and provides an alternative method for performing dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions that does not subject the unborn to the torture and agony of being dismembered while alive.”

HB 454 does not prohibit D&E abortions. However, it does ban the type of D&E abortion procedure that causes fetal death through the process of live dismemberment. The graphic procedure involves the use of forceps to forcibly rip the unborn living child apart piece by piece, usually resulting in the unborn bleeding to death during the dismemberment process.

The new law prohibits the dismemberment of an unborn child while he or she is still alive and requires the more humane practice of ensuring fetal demise before the limbs are dissected from the body and removed from the womb.

The Bevin Administration's argument is supported by significant federal case law and by the testimony of nine accomplished expert witnesses — including a former abortion provider, a medical ethics expert and professor from Duke University, and a neonatologist and professor from Northwestern University.

A copy of the pre-trial brief filed by Gov. Bevin's legal team on Nov. 2 can be viewed here.

In a short, one-page brief filed in May 2018, Attorney General Andy Beshear chose once again not to fulfill his statutory duties and failed to defend the law protecting the rights and dignity of unborn children. AG Beshear's brief can be viewed here.