Last week, the Health and Human Services Committee of the Texas Senate held a public hearing on major Pro-Life legislation, Senate Bill 415. Authored by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and a top legislative priority of Texas Right to Life, Senate Bill 415 would prohibit dismemberment abortions, a particular procedure used to murder preborn babies during the second trimester. Seven other states have already passed similar legislation.
What is a dismemberment abortion?
Used by abortionists as a matter of convenience during the second trimester, a dismemberment abortion is one type of D&E (dilation and evacuation) procedure. The preborn child is killed by ripping off his or her limbs one-by-one while in-utero. The child is then delivered in pieces. Some abortionists have claimed that through use of the dismemberment procedure, they are able to “salvage” intact pieces that can then be sold to researchers to the profit of the abortion business.
Why is Dismemberment Abortion Ban a priority?
Texas Right to Life believes in championing legislation that serves to undermine the legal reasoning of Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings. After Texas successfully passed the Preborn Pain Act in 2013, which prohibits elective abortions after twenty weeks post-fertilization (a measure that has not been struck down by a court, nor even challenged despite similar claims that the law would never stand), the next logical step in the Pro-Life legal strategy is the Dismemberment Abortion Ban. Both measures further solidify the state’s interest in protecting fetal Life, reveal the humanity of the preborn child, and outlaw practices that are abhorrent and barbaric in a civilized culture.
Is the Dismemberment Abortion Ban constitutional?
First, one cannot claim for absolute certainty whether or not any law will be upheld by any court as constitutional. In the law, there are varying degrees of certainty, and prudent lawyers consciously look to fashion legislation that meets both the desired policy goals and has the highest likelihood of being found constitutional by the judiciary.
The Dismemberment Abortion Ban has a high likelihood of being found constitutional, both at the appellate level and in the Supreme Court of the United States, thus challenging, legally and constitutionally, precedent set in Roe v. Wade. In Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), the high court upheld Congress’ ban on partial-birth abortions. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke to states’ interest in regulating a barbaric and inhumane practice in medicine and he cited dismemberment abortions in his argument. The Gonzales case opened an avenue for this Pro-Life litigation strategy that cannot go untried.
If other states have passed this bill, why should Texas?
Texas lies geographically in the appellate jurisdiction of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This particular appellate court historically takes a strict, constructionist view of the U.S. Constitution and has a track record of understanding preborn children have inherent dignity and worth. Texas also boasts an executive branch, through the Office of the Attorney General, that is willing to litigate and push Pro-Life issues expertly through the judicial system.
Often times differing decisions from appellate circuit courts on the same issue force the United States Supreme Court to examine the various cases and to weigh in. Texas is uniquely situated – through the willingness of our executive branch and our geographic location – to lead the rest of the nation in the latest avenue to challenge some of the core legal principles of Roe v. Wade.
The members of the 85th Texas Legislature must not squander this opportunity.