Alabama seeks to enforce ‘dismemberment’ abortion ban
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama, with support from other conservative states, is seeking to enforce a state law banning the most commonly used second-trimester abortion procedure.
The state has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that blocked the 2016 law banning dilation and evacuation abortions, in which the fetus is removed in pieces with forceps.
Politicians and groups seeking to ban the practice use the nonmedical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe the procedure.
“That act prohibits dismemberment abortion — a particularly brutal form of abortion ... ,” lawyers for the state attorney general’s office wrote in a brief filed last week with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Twenty-two states signed an amicus brief in support of Alabama, arguing the law is constitutional and the wrong legal standard was applied. Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Louisiana have passed similar laws.
“Louisiana is an unapologetically pro-life state; and, as its chief legal officer, I will stand with our fellow pro-life states in defending life and the dignity of the unborn,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson in October blocked enforcement of the law, saying the ban would likely cause Alabama women to lose access to abortion in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy because of the unavailability of other methods.
“Alabama women would likely lose their right to pre-viability abortion access at or after 15 weeks,” Thompson wrote in October.
The state in its appeal argued that the law does not ban all forms of second-trimester abortions and that other methods were available, such as an injection of potassium chloride to first induce fetal demise.
“All the Legislature asks is that unborn children be terminated humanely,” lawyers for the state wrote.
Thompson, in his order, wrote that those procedures are riskier and difficult to obtain.
The Alabama law was challenged by abortion clinic owners and the American Civil Liberties union.
“We are confident that Judge Thompson’s well-reasoned decision will be upheld,” Randall Marshall, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said Friday.
Nikema Williams, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood Southeast, said it was unfortunate the state was spending money to appeal a measure that has already been deemed unconstitutional.
She said that Thompson made clear that access to health care, “should not depend on a woman’s ZIP code.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights has described dilation and evacuation as the safest and most common abortion procedure in the U.S. in the second trimester.