Gov. Sam Brownback tweeted that he was proud to sign the law.

Story highlights

A new Kansas law bans what it describes as "dismemberment abortion"

Supporters say it's a groundbreaking step

Opponents say it's dangerous and politically motivated

CNN  — 

A new Kansas law banning a common second-term abortion procedure is the first of its kind in the United States.

The law, signed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday, bans what it describes as “dismemberment abortion” and defines as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.”

Supporters of the measure described it as a groundbreaking step, while opponents warned it was dangerous and among the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

The law does not spell out a specific time frame that limits when an abortion can occur, but it bans the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure commonly used during the second trimester of pregnancy. The law allows for the procedure if “necessary to protect the life or health of the mother,” according to a statement on Brownback’s website.

On Twitter, Brownback, a Republican, said he was proud to sign a law “protecting life at its most vulnerable stage.”

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri sharply criticized the move, which it described as the latest in a series of “extreme political measures aimed at denying women access to health care and at undermining their decision-making ability.”

“Kansas is now not only the sole state with this atrocious law; it also now has more restrictions on abortion than any state in the U.S.,” the advocacy group said in a Facebook post.

Both sides appear to be prepared to take their battle over such measures to other states – and to court.

Carol Tobias, the president of National Right to Life, said in a statement that the Kansas law was the first of what her organization hopes “will be many state laws.”

“This law has the power to transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States,” she said.

Julie Burkhart, CEO of Wichita-based South Wind Women’s Center, said on Twitter that the signing of the law marked a sad day for Kansas and the United States.

“This law puts women at risk and ties doctors’ hands,” she said. “We’ll continue to fight!”

CNN’s Sam Stringer contributed to this report.