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South Dakota kills bill to ban dismembering and decapitating babies during abortion

Ben Johnson
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PIERRE, SD, February 20, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A committee of the South Dakota House of Representatives has voted down a bill that would have prevented abortion procedures that dismember children in the womb.

H.B. 1241, a one-page bill introduced by Rep. Isaac Latterell, would have made it state law that “no licensed physician may knowingly dismember a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health” of the baby.

The bill would have punished the act 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” with a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

If the abortion “involves the separation of the skull from the spine,” the abortionist could have been sentenced to life in prison.

The motion, which had 17 sponsors, died in the House Health and Human Services Committee today by a 11-1 vote. Three of the bill's sponsors voted to table the measure; one, Manny Steele, voted to keep the bill alive.

It was a difficult day for Latterell, who saw the committee kill another bill he introduced, to prohibit abortions procured “because the unborn child has been diagnosed with, or has had a genetic screening indicating that the unborn child may have Down syndrome.”

Critics said no abortion facility in the state performed dilation and extraction (D&E) abortions. Legal experts also warned the bills would complicate South Dakota's legal arguments, which focus on the harm abortion does to women. However, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban sex-selective abortions on Wednesday.

“I am in full support of the winning federal court arguments that pro-life legislators, life groups, and attorneys in South Dakota have been advancing successfully since 2005,” Rep. Latterell told LifeSiteNews. “We know that abortion harms women and we have a duty to protect the mother’s relationship with her child.”

“However, this does not mean that pro-life bills which protect both the mother’s interest and the child should not be advanced,” he said. “There is strong support to protect both the mother and the child, and I am hopeful that we will work with all parties to craft legally defensible legislation that will also save lives and change hearts.”

His proposal sent a scare through the pro-abortion blogosphere, which claimed the bill secretly aimed to stop all abortions by intimidating or confusing abortionists, who would not be willing to perform earlier abortions for fear of violating the law.

Latterell said his bill would have allowed abortionists to dismember babies after death, provided they used another method to end the child's life. But abortionist Cheryl Chastine, who reopened George Tiller's former abortion facility in Kansas, admitted, “Before 18 weeks, injection gets more difficult” due to fetal size.

The baby's tiny body, and the brutality inflicted upon it, is the last thing abortionists want Americans thinking about.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, who has performed approximately 1,200 abortions, graphically described the procedure in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. “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,” he said. “Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart, and lungs.”

He said the “toughest” aspect was removing the baby's head, and he was only certain he had succeeded when he could “see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces.”

The visceral reaction the bill evoked displeased abortion advocates. Laura Bassett wrote in The Huffington Post that “the bill uses charged language that is likely intended to appeal to people's emotions and remind them of Kermit Gosnell.”

If the gory details of the abortions move those who hear them, they often make no impression on the doctors performing them. In 2004, abortionist Dr. Stephen T. Chasen answered a New York federal district judge's question, “Do you have any care or concern for the fetus whose head you are crushing?” with a simple “no.” Gosnell has said from his jail cell that he considers himself a remorseless foot soldier in the war on poverty.

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Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told The Huffington Post the bill's language is “inflammatory.”

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

“The text of the bill should be required reading for everyone in the country,” the group said, because it describes “what abortionists do to babies everyday in America.”

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