Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday signed a law that bans dilation and evacuation (D&E), a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
The law, titled the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, redefines "dilation and evacuation" as "dismemberment." Language in the law says the fetus is pulled apart limb by limb and allowed to bleed to death before being removed from the pregnant woman's body.
Critics of the law say that language is not medically accurate. Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, says terms like "dismemberment" are deliberately provocative.
"It's meant to be nonmedical," McQuade says. "The entire bill is drafted in non-medically accurate language. It's meant to be as inflammatory as possible. It is designed to inflame the conversation."
Kathy Ostrowski, the legislative director of Kansans for Life, says that's correct on one count. The bill, she says, is supposed to be written in layman's terms.
"When you're examining these kinds of procedures, it's important not to obscure it with terminology that the public can't understand," Ostrowski says . "The reason why there is an outcry is that when [people] understood, they were outraged by it."
Ostrowski says not enough women understand how the procedure works before they undergo it. D&E abortions accounted for 8.8 percent of abortions performed in Kansas last year, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Kansas becomes the first state in the country to ban the procedure, but similar bills are being considered in Oklahoma and South Carolina. Ostrowski says she hopes Kansas has set a precedent that other states will follow.