Attorney General Morrisey explains why WV joined brief defending Alabama’s ban on dismemberment abortion

By Dave Andrusko

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

Editor’s note. My family and I will be on vacation through August 25. I will occasionally add new items but for the most part we will repost “the best of the best” — the stories our readers have told us they especially liked over the last ten months.

On Tuesday NRL News Today carried a story about the governors and attorneys general of 22 states who joined together to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to support Alabama’s ban on dismemberment abortions.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson first issued a temporary restraining order against Alabama’s Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act in July 2016.

Today West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a release explaining why his state joined Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, along with governors from Kentucky and Mississippi in filing the amicus organized by the Office of Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry. [Six of the states have passed the ban, 16 have not as yet.]

“I support and defend life at every stage,” Morrisey said. “Our action seeks to defend the right of individual states to protect the lives of unborn children.”

Alabama’s law is similar to that implemented last year in the Mountaineer state which makes it unlawful “to purposely perform or attempt to perform a dismemberment abortion,” Morrisey explained.

Specifically, SB 10 outlaws a form of abortion that “dismember[s] a living unborn child and extract[s] him or her one piece at a time from the uterus.”

In his release, Morrisey noted that Judge Thompson’s action

blocked enforcement of Alabama’s law, which has called into question the authority of other states to abolish this particularly gruesome abortion method.

This month’s brief, filed before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, supports Alabama’s appeal and argues the lower court applied the wrong legal standard. It cites Supreme Court case law in arguing states have an interest in protecting and fostering respect for human life, including unborn life.

The states explain their intense interest in the Alabama law on the very first two pages of their 31-page brief,

The question raised by the district court’s decision goes to the heart of the States’ authority to regulate abortion. The Supreme Court has held that States (1) have an interest in protecting and fostering respect for human life, including unborn life, and (2) have the power to regulate the medical profession, including on matters of medical judgment and ethics. See Gonzales v. Carhart. As a result, States not only may prohibit specific abortion procedures that threaten to erode respect for life, but they may balance related medical tradeoffs when they do so, on condition that they do not unduly burden the decision to obtain an abortion. Although access to an abortion is a constitutional right, access to a particular abortion method — even a method favored by plaintiff abortion providers — is not.

The abortion method involved in this case is an exceptionally grisly one, potentially even more so than the “partial-birth” procedure at issue in Gonzales. The abortions here, referred to as “dismemberment” abortions, kill fetuses quite literally by tearing them limb from limb while they are still alive in the womb. The potential that repeated performance of such a procedure will compromise respect for life as well as the ethics of the medical profession is unquestionably serious.

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