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February 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Twenty-one states have signed onto an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to review a lower court decision invalidating Alabama’s ban on the dismemberment abortion procedure commonly used in the second trimester.

In 2016, Alabama enacted a ban on dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions, also called dismemberment abortions because they function by tearing a preborn baby apart limb by limb (as acknowledged by the National Abortion Federation’s own instructional materials, despite abortion defenders’ complaints about the label).

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson blocked it the next year, and last August a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his decision, concluding that while the state “has an actual and substantial interest in lessening, as much as it can, the gruesomeness and brutality of dismemberment abortions,” current controlling precedent ultimately means that states “cannot forbid this method of abortion entirely.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a petition appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court in December, calling it an “important question of national significance.” On Monday, 21 states lent their support to Alabama’s efforts, Jurist reports.

“By any normal standard of morality and basic decency — considering the gruesomeness of the dismemberment procedure — Alabama’s regulation is relatively modest. Many States, after all, would prefer to prohibit dismemberment altogether,” the brief argues. “It is also undeniably unfortunate for a State to have to defend unborn life by replacing horrific fetal deaths with more merciful ones. But States that do not sanction abortion as a rule nonetheless regard efforts to make abortion procedures marginally more humane as an important second-best means to assert their interest in respecting life.”

“By limiting use of particularly ‘brutal’ abortion procedures, id. at 160, States further respect for life, both in society at large and in the medical profession in particular,” it argues, citing the Supreme Court’s Gonzales v. Carhart ruling that upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban. “They also protect women from the deep grief many of them are likely to feel if and when they later discover exactly how their unborn children were killed, id. at  159, while encouraging the medical profession to ‘find different and less shocking methods to abort the fetus.’”

The signatories to the brief are Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and the Attorneys General of Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.

Dismemberment abortion’s defenders argue it is the “safest” procedure for killing preborn babies during the second trimester of pregnancy, and banning it only drives women to riskier methods. Pro-lifers suggest that abortionists prefer D&E abortions because they can fit more into their schedule (thereby making more money), and because they make it easier to obtain fetal organs to sell.

The Supreme Court is already considering whether to uphold Louisiana’s requirement that abortion facilities have hospital admitting privileges, and whether to hear an appeal for Indiana’s ban on abortions sought on the basis of a baby’s race, sex, or disability.