MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama has become the fifth state to ban dilation and extraction abortions (D&E), also known as dismemberment abortions, while leaving other forms of killing unborn children legal.
S.B. 363 passed the House of Representatives 74-26 last week and the Senate 30-21 last month, and was signed into law on Thursday by Gov. Robert Bentley.
“[I]t shall be unlawful for any individual to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion and thereby kill an unborn child unless necessary to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” the bill reads.
The legislation defines a dismemberment abortion as to “purposely to dismember a living unborn child and extract him or her one piece at a time from the uterus through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, or grasp, or any combination of the foregoing, a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.” D&E procedures are common in second trimester abortions.
However, the bill also notes that the prohibition does not ban other abortion methods, as it “does not include an abortion which uses suction to dismember the body of the developing unborn child by sucking fetal parts into a collection container.” Suction aspiration abortions are common in the first trimester.
Nikema Williams, vice-president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said that the organization sees the bill as a means to completely ban second trimester abortions.
“The goal is to make abortion inaccessible in any circumstance across the country, all under the guise of concern for women’s health,” she said.
But S.B. 363 outlines that the law “does not prevent abortion for any reason, including rape and incest, by any other method, unless otherwise prevented by law.”
Alabama lawmakers also passed S.B. 205, which prohibits abortion facilities from operating within 2,000 feet of a school.
“The Alabama Department of Public Health may not issue or renew a health center license to an abortion clinic
or reproductive health center that performs abortions and is located within 2,000 feet of a K-8 public school,” it simply reads.
“We can put a restriction on whether a liquor store opens up across the street and make sure pedophiles stay away from schools,” sponsor Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, told reporters. “I just think having an abortion clinic that close to elementary-age school children that actually have to walk on the sidewalk past it is not the best thing.”
There are two abortion facilities near schools in Alabama: Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville and West Alabama Women’s Center Inc. The new law is expected to result in the closure of both locations.