A new Kansas law banning an abortion procedure that results in dismemberment of an unborn child "has the power to transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.
Gov. Sam Brownback signed the measure April 7 during a private ceremony in Topeka.
Called the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, it is "the first of what we hope will be many state laws banning dismemberment abortions," said Tobias.
Except in cases of medical need for the mother, the law bans a common second-trimester method for aborting pregnancies. Physicians call the procedure a "dilation and extraction" abortion, but the state uses the terminology "dismemberment abortion."
The method involves dilating a woman's cervix and removing a fetus with forceps or other devices.
According to National Right to Life, "dismemberment abortions are as brutal as the partial-birth abortion method, which is now illegal in the United States."
The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007, outlaws a procedure is used in late-term abortions.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, praised Brownback for signing the legislation. "We have supported and spoken about the need for this kind of measure for many years, and today we recommit ourselves to making it a reality in many more states across our land," he said in a statement.
Earlier this year in an interview with Catholic News Service at a conference outside of Washington, Brownback, who is Catholic, said his faith has shaped his pro-life views but that natural law also plays a role.
"I also think it's a natural law thing. Should you really be killing people, whether you have a Catholic faith or not? It just doesn't seem right," he said.
"You have to approach this (the life debate) from a natural law argument that people agree with," he explained.
Natural law reasoning and approaches have proven helpful in passing pro-life legislation and shown a lack of political consequences in doing so, according to Brownback. "People don't like killing children; they just agree with it!"
Regarding the dismemberment procedure, he said such abortions are "a graphic reminder about how horrific abortion is. There are actually abortions performed in the U.S. today where you actually dismember an unborn child to pull it out. ... You wouldn't do that to a dog, yet it's legal in the United States."