A living child in the womb

Next trick in the anti-abortion playbook? Ban D&E procedures. South Dakota is working on it.

…the state has become a testing ground for messaging, ballot initiatives and trial-balloon legislation meant to provoke a Supreme Court review of the durability of the Roe v. Wade decision. Now, South Dakota may be laying new groundwork to end legal abortion at any point after the first trimester—first in the state but, also, if history repeats itself, for the country. What happens in far-off South Dakota, in other words, very likely won’t stay there.

Anything. Anything to make sure women can’t be in control of their own lives. Anything to keep women enslaved to fertilization.

House Bill 1241, which was filed in early February, would make it a felony to “dismember” a living fetus during an abortion procedure. According to the bill, “the term, dismember, means to use an instrument or procedure for the purpose of disconnecting any bones at their joint, completely severing any bones, or removing any organs or limbs, including the spinal cord, arms, legs, and internal organs.”

What this gruesome-sounding explanation means, in essence, is that H.B. 1241 would make it against the law to perform what is known as a D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortion, a common procedure used in nearly all second-trimester abortions.

This would make one priest very happy.

Father Frank Pavone, the director of the national anti-abortion group Priests for Life, has long urged abortion opponents to focus on D&E as the type of bipartisan abortion restriction that could once more change the national debate. Telling a crowd of more than 200 in June of 2011 that his organization was already looking into ways to outlaw D&E, Pavone said that by focusing on “dismemberment” of a fetus in utero, they might be able once more to pull traditionally pro-choice people to their side.

“Now it’s time for Act 2,” reads the Priests for Life website, where the organization lays out talking points and support documentation to argue in favor of a D&E ban. “Now is the time to ask the American public, whether pro-life or pro-choice, a simple question: Should dismemberment of a living child in the womb be permitted? Let’s go beyond the all-encompassing question of ‘Should abortion be allowed?’ and ask, ‘Should this specific procedure, in which a child’s arms and legs are ripped off, and head crushed, be allowed?’”

It’s not a child. Words have meanings. An embryo is not a child. There isn’t a little darling in footy pajamas in there.

But Frank Pavone is looking forward to the opportunity to convince people that little children are being chopped up by the evil abortionists at the request of the evil women who seek these evil abortions.

“There’s a challenge here that goes far beyond the debate of ‘should we outlaw D&E abortions?’” he says. “The challenge is: How do we even talk about this issue? The pure, simple question is that we know children are being dismembered, so should that be allowed or not? If these bills are introduced, it can be the testing ground for this debate. I’d like people to wrestle with this issue.”

Pure, simple and dishonest.

H.B. 1241 will be heard in the South Dakota legislature’s Republican dominated Health and Human Services Committee, and it will probably to sail through for a full legislative vote. Based on the state’s history with abortion restrictions, it’s likely to be signed into law, with the only question being whether the bill will be challenged or not. A refusal to challenge means a precedent will be set for banning abortion immediately after the first trimester. A court battle, on the other hand, gives those against abortion the chance to discuss “fetal dismemberment” graphically in the hope of moving more Americans to accepting a fetus as a baby that must be protected from harm.

For abortion opponents, either outcome is a win.

Oh well, it’s only women.


  1. ema says

    First, SCOTUS has already decreed that dismemberment is the standard of care; it banned intact D&Es.

    Second, “How do we even talk about this issue?” challenge from piece of garbage* Father Frank Pavone accepted (emphasis mine):

    [The] goal in any D&E is to empty the uterus in the safest way possible for the woman…..[D]uring a D&E, the fetus may be removed intact or in parts. [P]hysicians performing D&Es seek to minimize the number of times they insert instruments into the uterus. They therefore try to remove as much of the fetus as possible with each pass of an instrument. In some cases, depending on factors such as the degree of cervical dilation achieved, the tensile strength of the fetal tissue, and the position of the fetus, the physician is able to remove the fetus intact or relatively intact with the first pass of instruments…..[D]espite attempts to remove the fetus as intact as possible, the process often results in removal of the fetus in parts, with the physician reinserting instruments–and extracting as much of the fetus as possible with each instrument pass–until the evacuation is complete.8

    {8 The fetal skull is the largest part of the normally developed fetus and is typically too large to pass through the cervix during a D&E. As a result, whether the fetus is dismembered or removed intact, the physician must reduce the size of the skull to complete the delivery.}

    * Piece of garbage because of his stated position on women’s morbidity/mortality and access to safe and effective medical care.

  2. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    House Bill 1241, which was filed in early February, would make it a felony to “dismember” a living fetus during an abortion procedure.

    One loophole seems obvious right there – before the embryo is removed inject or otherwise treat it so it is no longer living and thus not covered by that wording.

    Doing this would then render this bill moot and pointless and mean it just adds an extra superfluous and of course potentially risky step to the operation.

    But, yes, a dishonest and misogynist and nasty bill no doubt of that.

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