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What is dismemberment abortion?

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Although it has been a source of much debate in the Texas Senate, the topic of dismemberment abortion is a fairly unfamiliar one. Most do not even know it exists.This has led to some misunderstanding of the topic even from those discussing it on the Senate floor.

Yesterday, SB415 authored by Senator Charles Perry passed out of the Texas Senate and is now being sent to the House where it will wait to be sent to committee. It’s companion bill in the house is HB844 authored by Rep. Stephanie Klick which was referred to the House State Affairs Committee on February 21st.

There are two situations in which a dismemberment of a child may occur: pre-death and post-death. Post-death dismemberments are commonly referred to as Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) and is a medical procedure done in the case of miscarriages.

However, pre-death dismemberment constitutes abortion. The dismemberment is, in fact, the route by which the death occurs. This method of abortion is the most common type performed in the second trimester or later, constituting 96%. This rate increased from 36% in 1974. The child is alive before the procedure begins and the child’s limbs are grasped and torn from their body. The pain and bleeding eventually results in their death as each individual body party is grasped and removed from the uterus. The child bleeds out as their limbs are torn from their bodies.

Proponents of this method assert that it is the safest way to perform a second trimester abortion, but others note that it is no less risky than other methods and has even been known to cause more damage to the mother. So far, seven states have passed bans on dismemberment abortions. Such legislation targets only this method of pre-death dismemberment abortion and has no bearing on miscarriage procedures such as a D&E. These laws do not actually outlaw abortions, they just require that the child be deceased through other methods before dismemberment can occur.

SB415 and HB844, like those enacted in other states, seek to make this method of abortion illegal in Texas.

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