A recurring battle over a controversial abortion procedure is headed back to court, this time in Kentucky.
The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to stop a law there that bans a procedure known as "dilation and evacuation." Anti-abortion activists call the second-trimester surgery "dismemberment abortion."
Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have passed similar bans on the practice, but the courts have struck them down. The ACLU says the Kentucky law is "shameless, insulting and dangerous."
Since Republicans took control of the Kentucky House last year, they have passed several measures to restrict access to abortion. Among others, they banned all abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy.
But the ACLU has had some success against the state, convincing a judge last year to strike down a law that required women to have an ultrasound before any abortion procedure. Doctors were required to show the ultrasound to the women and explain the image.
In the "dilation and evacuation" case, the ACLU sued one day after the legislation was signed into law. Michael Aldridge, executive director of the Kentucky organization, said lawmakers already shut down all but one abortion clinic in the state.
"Now they want to invade the exam room and stop doctors from providing safe, quality care," he said.
Marilyn Musgrave, an officer for the Susan B. Anthony List, said the procedure is barbaric and cruel. It involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus using suction and surgical tools.
"No society that aspires toward justice and compassion should turn a blind eye to a practice as barbaric as dismemberment abortion, in which defenseless unborn babies are torn limb from limb," she said.
Meanwhile, the legal battle over abortion is heating up in the south. Last month, Mississippi's governor signed the most restrictive abortion measure in the United States, banning all abortions after the fifteenth week of pregnancy.