SCOTUS declines to hear Alabama’s appeal of struck-down dismemberment abortion ban
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined to take up Alabama’s appeal to reinstate a state law banning dismemberment abortion, which is the most commonly used procedure in second-trimester abortions.
The “Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act” was enacted in 2016 by the state legislature. Since then, a ruling by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson struck the law down, and then the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Thompson’s decision in August 2018.
Pro-life advocates and many observers of constitutional law believed that the case was a prime candidate to be considered by the Supreme Court, potentially setting up a historic rollback of Roe v. Wade. Twenty-one other states even filed a brief supporting Alabama in Attorney General Steve Marshall’s petition asking SCOTUS to hear the case.
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 has 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.
However, Marshall’s request for cert was denied on Friday, meaning the state law will remain struck down without a hearing before the Supreme Court.
In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Alabama’s attorney general expressed his dismay regarding the decision but remained hopeful “that the day of reckoning for Roe is coming.”
“I am disappointed that the United States Supreme Court has decided not to hear Alabama’s appeal of a lower-court decision that invalidated our state law, enacted in 2016, prohibiting dismemberment abortion—a method of killing an unborn child that cannot be described in even the most clinical of terms to hide its monstrosity and gruesomeness,” Marshall said.
“This case would not have, however, accomplished by itself what needs doing: overturning Roe and its unconstitutional progeny,” he continued. “Writing about our case, Justice Thomas stated: ‘The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents states from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible. . . . This case serves as a stark reminder that our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control.’ I believe that the day of reckoning for Roe is coming.”
Only seven percent of the total abortions performed in Alabama each year are dismemberment abortions, while reportedly 99 percent of abortions performed after the first trimester are dismemberment abortions. State law does allow the use of more humane alternative medical procedures to perform second-trimester abortions.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn