Sixteen States File Amicus Brief Supporting Gov. Bevin's Appeal in Major Pro-Life Case

commonwealth of kentucky

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Governor's Office


Media Contact: Nicole Burton

Sixteen States File Amicus Brief Supporting
Gov. Bevin's Appeal in Major Pro-Life Case

Kentucky fighting to defend live dismemberment abortion ban

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 26, 2019)
 – Gov. Matt Bevin’s legal fight in a major pro-life case received strong support last week from a coalition of 16 states, who filed an amicus brief in Kentucky's House Bill 454 appeal currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

HB 454, which bans the brutal and grotesque practice of live dismemberment abortions, was passed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support from legislators and signed into law by Gov. Bevin. The ACLU and a Louisville abortion clinic quickly challenged the law, and a U.S. District judge in May ruled in their favor.

The attorneys general of Ohio, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia argue that the Sixth Circuit should reverse the District Court's erroneous opinion.

In their brief, the attorneys general assert that the District judge's ruling “misapplied the law in three ways”: 1) HB 454 does not place an undue burden on women seeking an abortion, 2) it does not place an undue burden on abortion providers, and 3) it should not have been struck down in its entirety by the lower court.

The amici also point out that every state has animal welfare laws which take into account the physical and emotional suffering of animals. “This case presents the question,” they note, “whether states can extend the same benefit to children.”

“We sincerely appreciate the support of these 16 fellow states who also firmly believe that unborn children should not be torn limb from limb while still alive,” said Steve Pitt, general counsel to Gov. Bevin. “HB 454 is an important law with profound societal implications — protecting the dignity of the unborn and ensuring that the ethics of the medical profession in Kentucky reflect the values of the Commonwealth.”

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 the 16-state amicus brief filed before the Sixth Circuit, click here.

Sadly, Kentucky's own attorney general Andy Beshear has chosen 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 requesting removal from the case can be viewed here.