South Dakota Bill Banning Dismemberment, Decapitation of Babies During Abortion Defeated

A South Dakota state House committee has rejected a measure that would have banned the procedure of dismembering and decapitating babies during abortions.

As Christian News reports, H.B. 1241 was struck down by a vote of eleven to one. Even three of the bill’s sponsors ultimately decided to table the proposal. Only Rep. Manny Steele (R) voted for the measure.

The legislation would have given criminal penalties, including the possibility of imprisonment for life, to physicians who intentionally injured an unborn child.

“No licensed physician may knowingly dismember a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health of the child,” the bill read. “A violation of this section is a Class 2 felony. If a violation of this section involves the separation of the skull from the spine, then the penalty is a Class B felony.”

In the bill, the word “dismember” was defined as the act of using any “instrument or procedure for the purpose of disconnecting any bones at their joint, completely severing any bones, or removing any organs or limbs, including the spinal cord, arms, legs, and internal organs.”

One of the bill’s sponsors, state Rep. Isaac Latterell (R), wrote in a blog post:

Imagine discovering that it was actually a veterinarian who regularly ripped the heads off of puppies and crushed their skulls. It would be hard to decide whether to call the police or to deal with the veterinarian yourself.

Now suppose you discovered that doctors regularly ripped the heads off of babies and tore apart their limbs while they were still alive. What would you do? Now is the time to decide, because here is evidence of this happening.

Latterell went on to describe abortionist Stephen Chasen’s 2004 testimony in New York federal district court that, during an abortion, “the fetal head is extracted by placing the forceps around it and crushing it.”

According to Latterell, “Dr. Chasen went on to say that he did not have ‘any caring or concern for the fetus whose head [he was] crushing.’”

“It is unconscionable... that any ‘doctor’ who claims to care for the health of others would remove the heads and limbs of children and toss them in the trash,” wrote Latterell. “Most media [don't] want to report this, because they know people would think it is too awful to be true.”

“I will not sit silently by as our children’s lives are devalued to a place lower than dogs,” Latterell said.

Elizabeth Nash of the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute, however, argued that the bill would serve as a back door means to end abortion.

“It looks like it’s trying to ban abortion using language that is completely unfamiliar and very inflammatory,” Nash told the Huffington Post.

Laura Bassett of the Huffington Post wrote:

The bill uses charged language that is likely intended to appeal to people's emotions and remind them of Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortion provider who was charged with murder after performing gruesome and illegal late-term abortions.

“Of course, pro-abortion groups say the bill is ‘inflammatory,’” said Jennifer Mason of pro-life group Personhood USA. “But why isn’t it the actual killing of innocent unborn babies that is inflammatory?”

Last May, Dr. Anthony Levantino, a former abortionist who performed over 1,000 abortions during his career, testified before Congress about the procedure called “dilation and evacuation (D&E)” that is used during a second trimester abortion.

“Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can,” he said. “Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard – really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long.”

“Reach in again and again with that clamp,” Levantino continued, “and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.”

“Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you,” he recalled.

Nevertheless, critics of the bill argued that South Dakota has no abortion facility in the state that performs D&E abortions.

“The South Dakota dismemberment bill is significant because to protect children in the womb from dismemberment abortion is the next logical step in the effort to end abortion,” Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, told Breitbart News in an email interview. “Even those who do not want to stop abortion entirely will usually draw the line after the first trimester, particularly when they learn the details of how these procedures are done.”

Pavone believes this type of legislation serves to educate people about what actually happens during abortion.

“The battle over abortion is waged in far too abstract a way,” he said. “We argue philosophy and constitutional law, theology, and justice – and all of that has its place. But, ironically, in all of this debate, what often gets lost is the simple question: ‘What is an abortion? How is it done?’ For many Americans, including lawmakers, the answers to those questions are enough to settle the issue.”

“The fact that the committee voted against moving forward with the bill is part of the rough and tumble world of lawmaking,” Pavone said. “But the protection of children from painful dismemberment is an idea whose time has come, and in that sense there are no bad developments here. Any publicity at all is good for the cause, if we get people talking about the reality that abortion dismembers babies.”

Pavone said, “It is important for the pro-life movement not only to build consensus, but to utilize the consensus that already exists, in public opinion and in legislative bodies, to pass measures that will protect as many children as possible.”

“The movement should not just mobilize pro-life people,” he added. “It should mobilize pro-choice people, too – and can do so in regard to stopping things like dismemberment abortion.”


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