Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a controversial new law into effect that will crack down on “dismemberment abortion,” making the form of pregnancy termination illegal unless a medical crisis warrants it.
Senate Bill 8, which is officially titled, “Texas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” will make Texas the eighth state in the U.S. to enact restrictions on dilation and extraction abortions.
Alabama, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and West Virginia already have bans on so-called dismemberment abortions on the books, the Christian Post reported.
The text of the bill defines a “dismemberment abortion” as “an abortion in which a person, with the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, dismembers the living unborn child and extracts the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slices, crushes, or grasps, or performs any combination of those actions on, a piece of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip the piece from the body.”
That text continues, “The term does not include an abortion that uses suction to dismember the body of an unborn child by sucking pieces of the unborn child into a collection container. The term includes a dismemberment abortion that is used to cause the death of an unborn child and in which suction is subsequently used to extract pieces of the unborn child after the unborn child’s death.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights has announced that the pro-choice group will challenge the law, which isn’t set to take effect until September, according to the Huffington Post.
“Reminiscent of 2013 — when the Texas legislature held a special session to advance abortion restrictions which were eventually struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt — this provision was rammed through at the last minute despite outcry from medical experts and advocates alike,” the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.
Laws in other Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma are currently being challenged. But the Texas Right to Life released a statement calling Abbott’s decision to sign the bill into law “a pro-life victory.”
“With the strong amendments added to SB 8, lives of the pre-born will be saved and Texas will move forward in undermining the legal foundation of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States,” the statement read. “The Dismemberment Abortion Ban Amendment is a monumental step in protecting the most vulnerable among us and advancing Pro-Life legislation in our state and across the country.”
The term “dismemberment abortion” is generally used by the pro-life movement (the more operative term is dilation and evacuation), with the Huffington Post reporting that the ban on it is “effectively a ban on abortion after 13 weeks,” citing statistics from the Guttmacher Institute that found most abortions that take place after the first trimester rely on this procedure.
In addition to banning dilation and evacuation — or dismemberment abortions — the law restricts fetal tissue donations for elective abortion and requires that fetal remains either be buried or cremated, Politico reported.
It appears Texas might not be done with enacting restrictions on abortion, either. Abbott has announced a special legislative session that will take place starting on July 18, 2017. Among other items, it will include discussions about the “prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers” and “strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise.”