Editor:

A premature baby born at just 22 weeks was discharged a few months ago from the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile.

In a touching video posted on AL.com, little Cullen Porter can be seen wearing a tiny black cap and gown on the way home, having “graduated” in August from the neonatal intensive care unit with “no major issues.”

Three months later two other extremely premature babies were successfully discharged from Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. One was born at just 23 weeks and another at 25, according to hospital spokesperson Jennifer Malone.

This is wonderful.

Advances in medical science allowed these three babies, and many others born prematurely in the second trimester of pregnancy (roughly 14-27 weeks), to survive, thrive and enjoy life with the rest of us. 

Yet stagnation in law allows many other healthy fetuses in the second trimester to be killed through what’s called a “dismemberment abortion.” They’re too developed for simpler procedures, so they’re torn apart and removed from their mother’s womb in bloody, broken pieces.

This is horrific.

Thankfully, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall just asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case concerning our state’s ban on dismemberment abortion that was ruled unconstitutional by lower federal courts. As described in Marshall’s petition, the only meaningful difference is that during a partial-birth abortion a living fetus is almost completely delivered before a doctor uses a suction device to “vacuum out the child’s brains.”

In a dismemberment abortion, a living fetus is mutilated entirely within the womb by using “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.”

“The fetus,” the petition continues, “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.”

State data show the gruesome procedure, called “dilation and evacuation” within the medical community, was performed on 89 unborn children in Alabama during 2016 alone.

That was the same year the Alabama Legislature banned the gruesome technique while providing for a health exception to save the life of the mother.

During the last election 59 percent of Alabamians voted in favor of an amendment to the Constitution declaring that it’s the state’s policy to recognize the rights of the unborn. And national polls have shown that more than 60 percent favor banning second- and third-trimester abortions.

The Alabama Policy Institute will file a brief in support of the state’s position should the justices decide to hear the case. Other organizations and individuals across the state and nation are sure to do the same.

Meanwhile, while our state officials appeal to a higher court, our state’s citizens should appeal to a higher power and pray that Alabama, and our nation, forever ends the scourge of dismemberment abortions.

J. Pepper Bryars,
Alabama Policy Institute