U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Thomas weighs in on 'dismemberment abortions' and the undue burden standard

  • Print.

Clarence Thomas

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said Friday the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence “has spiraled out of control” and has to be reevaluated.

“We cannot continue blinking the reality of what this court has wrought,” he wrote.

Thomas expressed his views in a concurrence to the Supreme Court’s refusal to review an Alabama law barring “dismemberment abortions” in 2016. A federal appeals court had struck down the law banning dilation and evacuation abortions, the most common second-trimester abortion method.

Although Thomas thought that the Alabama law is constitutional, he said the case did not present an opportunity to address the Supreme Court’s “demonstrably erroneous” undue burden standard for evaluating laws that regulate abortions.

Thomas said the abortion procedure banned by the Alabama law amounts to “dismembering a child alive.”

“The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents states from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible,” he said.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Atlanta reluctantly struck down the law last year in a decision that described the procedure in graphic terms. Thomas included the description in his concurrence.

“In this type of abortion, the unborn child dies the way anyone else would if dismembered alive,” the 11th Circuit said in an opinion by Judge Ed Carnes. “It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. It can, however, survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. … At the end of the abortion—after the larger pieces of the unborn child have been torn off with forceps and the remaining pieces sucked out with a vacuum—the abortionist is left with a tray full of pieces.”

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Founder of online abortion-pill service says she won’t turn anyone away, despite FDA warning”

ABAJournal.com: “Abortion law prompts more than 200 ABA members to protest plan to hold 2021 meeting in Atlanta”

ABA Journal: “Dutch doctor’s abortion-drug prescription service faces legal landmines”

ABAJournal.com: “ABA opposes proposal to ban abortion counseling and referrals at clinics that receive federal funds”

ABAJournal.com: “Judge blocks closing of state’s only abortion clinic with TRO”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.