Historic Hearing on Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban Concludes

By Texas Right to Life

A five-day trial on the Pro-Life Dismemberment Abortion Ban concluded Wednesday in Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel’s court. The trial is the latest development in a challenge to the law by several abortion clinics and abortionists contending the measure is unconstitutional.

Blocking the enforcement of the bill, Judge Yeakel granted a temporary restraining order in September that is set to expire later this month. The full trial alone that ended today is a noteworthy victory for the Pro-Life movement in Texas.

During the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature, Texas Right to Life championed and prioritized the Dismemberment Abortion Ban that passed as an amendment to Senate Bill 8, because of the lives that will be saved, the focus the policy brings to the cultural conversation, and the potential for a substantial and historic judicial victory. The ban outlaws a gruesome abortion procedure in which a living preborn child is torn limb from limb while his or her heart is still beating. The dismemberment of a living child in utero is a barbaric and inhumane practice, and legislators acted upon their compelling state interest by protecting preborn Life with the Dismemberment Abortion Ban.

In this trial, abortion clinics like Whole Woman’s Health and multiple Planned Parenthoods argued that outlawing Dismemberment Abortions would force Texas abortionists to resort to unsafe, unfamiliar, “experimental” alternative abortion procedures to comply with Senate Bill 8. Skillfully, the attorney general’s legal team defending the Pro-Life measure exposed this misrepresentation by their hard-hitting cross-examination of numerous abortionists and medical professionals.

When on the stand, Texas abortionists challenging SB 8 contradicted one another and admitted to being trained and well-versed in, and even of having policies of, promoting alternative abortion methods in compliance with the Dismemberment Abortion Ban. At the end of the day, the abortion industry was forced to graphically describe the draconian and violent process of taking a child’s life through dismemberment, while also defending the practice they claim Texas has no right to prohibit.

To defend the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in SB 8, the state brought forward a wide array of compelling witnesses including abortionists, former abortionists, physicians, legal experts, bioethicists, public health experts, and others. Former abortionist Anthony Levatino, M.D., gave the court a brutal step-by-step explanation of the abortion procedure and his gut-wrenching personal conversion story that caused him to become a Pro-Life activist.

Other important witnesses were current abortionists or neutral medical experts in Texas who entirely contradicted claims by the plaintiffs who explained the straightforward and common-sense ways that the abortion clinics challenging the law could comply. Lastly, a public health expert and OB-GYN systematically and patiently went through a plethora of the relevant medical, scientific, peer-reviewed literature to read into the court record how claims being made by the abortion industry about dismemberment abortions and the alternative procedures were categorically false.

In closing arguments, the attorney general’s legal team passionately defended Texas’ compelling state interest in protecting the life of the preborn child. The legal team argued that this state interest, protection for the preborn, is identical to the legal basis for the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart that upheld a ban on partial-birth abortion.

That state interest justifies outlawing the similarly gruesome and inhumane procedure of causing the deaths of preborn children by removing their limbs from their bodies in the womb. Underscoring the brutality of the procedure, the attorney for the state keenly declared the “dark irony if the same constitution that requires humane execution of criminals is the same constitution that bars Texans from banning live dismemberment of an unborn child.”

Judge Yeakel, who has ruled against Pro-Life legislation in several high-profile cases, is not expected to have the final ruling on this landmark case. Yeakel’s anti-Life rulings are routinely appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals where Pro-Life legislation typically receives a fair assessment.

Texas Right to Life supports Attorney General Ken Paxton’s efforts to defend the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in the highest court necessary to honor Texas’ intent to protect innocent human Life.

Texas Right to Life was in the federal court for the entire five-day trial and will be intently waiting for Judge Yeakel’s ruling, which is expected to be released before November 22 when the temporary restraining order on the Pro-Life law expires.