INDIANAPOLIS (LifeSiteNews) — Indiana may enforce its ban on so-called “dismemberment” abortion procedures, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana has ruled, although the law could still face a legal challenge based on a different argument in the future.
Last July, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker lifted the injunction on a state law that prohibits abortionists from “knowingly or intentionally perform[ing] a dismemberment abortion unless reasonable medical judgment dictates that performing the abortion is necessary: (1) to prevent any serious health risk to the mother; or (2) to save the mother’s life.”
Dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedures, commonly used in the second trimester, are more commonly known as “dismemberment abortions” because they function by tearing a preborn baby apart limb by limb.
Bloomberg Law reports that on March 31, Barker ruled that Roe’s overturn meant that abortionist Caitlin Bernard cannot prevail in her argument that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that individuals cannot be deprived of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” in the Fourteenth Amendment.
However, Barker also gave Bernard 30 days to submit a new complaint arguing that the ban violates a patient’s “substantive due process claim based on her patients’ right to bodily integrity” in the case of “emergency abortions,” i.e., abortions sought to save a mother’s life or health.
The law in question already contains an exception for physical risks to the mother, but “given that Dobbs does not define ‘elective,’ it is not clear whether an exception such as that in the dismemberment ban which is only for the life and health of the pregnant patient necessarily covers all medical emergencies, including those that would complicate a pregnancy to a point where it would require an immediate, non-elective abortion,” Barker claimed.
Abortion defenders have long objected to the “dismemberment” label as inflammatory and misleading, even though the abortion industry itself has effectively admitted its accuracy. The National Abortion Federation’s (NAF’s) own instructional materials describe dismemberment abortions as “grasping a fetal part,” then “withdraw[ing] the forceps while gently rotating it” to achieve “separation.” Notorious late-term abortionist Warren Hern has described D&Es even more candidly: “[T]here is no possibility of denial of an act of destruction by the operator. It is before one’s eyes. The sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current.”
Defenders also claim that dismemberment abortions are the “safest” second-trimester procedure available (for the mother), but pro-lifers have long argued that the real reason abortionists prefer D&E abortions is because they can fit more into their schedule, and therefore make more money.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe and restoring states’ ability to set their own abortion laws, Planned Parenthood has suspended abortions and/or closed locations across the country, and pro-life attorneys general have declared their intentions to enforce their states’ duly enacted abortion prohibitions.
But leftists prosecutors in various localities have vowed not to enforce such laws, and pro-abortion activists have pursued a number of strategies to preserve abortion “access,” including enshrining “rights” to the practice in state constitutions, effectively insulating it from ordinary state legislation, as well as supporting interstate distribution of abortion pills and interstate travel for abortion.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to codify a “right” to abortion in federal law, which would not only restore but expand the Roe status quo by making it illegal for states to pass virtually any pro-life laws. Democrats currently lack the votes to do so, but whether they get those votes is sure to be one of the major issues of the 2024 elections.