Gov. Bevin Continues Legal Fight to Defend Live Dismemberment Abortion Ban

commonwealth of kentucky

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Governor's Office


Media Contact: Nicole Burton

Gov. Bevin Continues Legal Fight to Defend
Live Dismemberment Abortion Ban

HB 454 passed overwhelmingly by Kentucky General Assembly

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 12, 2019) – Gov. Matt Bevin’s legal team on Wednesday evening filed their opening brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in defense of House Bill 454 (HB 454), which bans the brutal and grotesque practice of live dismemberment abortions.

HB 454 was passed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support from legislators and signed into law by Gov. Bevin on April 10. The ACLU and a Louisville abortion clinic quickly challenged the law, and a U.S. District judge in May ruled in their favor.

The Bevin Administration, represented by attorneys from the Governor's Office and from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, argues that without HB 454, unborn children will continue to be torn limb from limb while still alive — a practice infinitely more barbaric than that reserved for “those who receive the death penalty and...even animals destined for death.” They 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.

“The fact that the central question in this case — whether or not an unborn child can be dismembered while alive — is up for debate is utterly astounding and reprehensible,” said Gov. Bevin. “Kentucky is a strongly pro-life state, and we will continue to fight for the dignity and value of every single human life. Our Administration is unapologetically committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us at every opportunity.”

HB 454 does not prohibit dilation and evacuation (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 ripped 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.

To view a copy of this week's brief filed by Gov. Bevin's legal team, click 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 one-page brief can be viewed here.