Alabama backed by 21 states in asking Supreme Court to hear dismemberment abortion case
Attorney General Steve Marshall said he is pleased that 21 other states are supporting Alabama in his petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case appealing the constitutionality of Alabama’s law banning dismemberment abortions.
The State of Louisiana was joined by 20 additional states in an amicus curiae brief filed Monday in the case of Marshall v. West Alabama Women’s Center. Alabama’s appeal sets up what many observers believe could be a historic rollback of Roe v. Wade.
This came after Marshall filed a cert petition December 20 with the Supreme Court seeking review of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ August 2018 ruling against the “Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act,” which was enacted in 2016. This law banned the gruesome second-trimester abortion procedure medically known as “dilation and evacuation,” more commonly referred to as “dismemberment.” Approximately seven percent of the abortions performed in Alabama each year are dismemberment abortions. State law allows the use of more humane alternative medical procedures to perform second-trimester abortions.
“The support of these states underscores how significant the national interest is in resolving this issue,” Marshall said in a statement. “At least nine states have enacted similar laws, and litigation is pending in the Fifth Circuit, the Eighth Circuit and multiple state courts.”
In a dismemberment abortion, a doctor dismembers a living unborn child and extracts him or her one piece at a time from the uterus using clamps, grasping forceps, tongs or scissors. Marshall argued that Alabama’s law is similar to the federal ban on partial-birth abortions which was enacted in 2003 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007.
The attorney general noted that federal law already constitutionally prohibits partial-birth abortions and has asserted that the lower courts were wrong to enjoin the Yellowhammer State from enforcing its ban on dismemberment of a living fetus.
“There is no ‘meaningful difference’ between death-by-dismemberment abortion in the womb and partial birth abortion outside it,” Marshall wrote in his brief.
He further argued that the Supreme Court needs to act to resolve inconsistencies in how the two procedures are treated legally, and to ultimately reverse the lower court ruling in Alabama.
Louisiana was joined in the amicus brief by the states of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Governor Kay Ivey has previously expressed her support for this potentially historic appeal.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn