Opinions Relating to Orders - 2018

Harris v. West Alabama Women’s Center

In 2016, Alabama adopted a law prohibiting “dismemberment abortion[s].” Ala. Code §26–23G–3(a). The law does not prohibit women from obtaining an abortion, but it does prevent abortion providers from purposefully “dismember[ing] a living unborn child and extract[ing] him or her one piece at a time from the uterus through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments” that “slice, crush, or grasp . . . a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.” §26–23G–2(3). As the Court of Appeals explained, this method of abortion is particularly gruesome: “In this type of abortion the unborn child dies the way anyone else would if dismembered alive. It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. It can, however, survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. . . . At the end of the abortion—after the larger pieces of the unborn child have been torn off with forceps and the remaining pieces sucked out with a vacuum— the abortionist is left with a tray full of pieces.” West Alabama Women’s Center v. Williamson, 900 F. 3d 1310, 1319–1320 (CA11 2018) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).