Dilation and Evacuation Bans

This law topic summary was last updated on: March 16, 2017

Often referred to as “dismemberment abortion bans,” a nonmedical term, these laws seek to ban the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy during the second trimester.

Many of these laws define dismemberment abortion as “the purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, to purposely dismember a living unborn child and extract him or her one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slices, crushes, or grasps a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”

In reality, dilation and evacuation is a safe and effect method in which a physician dilates the patient’s cervix and removes the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other surgical instruments.

The tactic of redefining an abortion procedure with a non-medical term is not new. Anti-choice activists successfully employed the same strategy in the 1990s when the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) coined the term “partial-birth abortion” in an effort to ban intact dilation and extraction abortions. The procedure, an uncommon method used after the first trimester, was ultimately banned by Congress and the Supreme Court.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an abortion using suction aspiration can be performed up to 14 weeks’ gestation, but after 14 weeks the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure must be used to perform an abortion. As such, D and E bans, depending upon their language, may ban all surgical abortion past 14 weeks’ gestation.

Examples of Dilation and Evacuation Bans (Last Updated February 27, 2017)

Dilation and evacuation bans come in different forms with varying exceptions. The most popular legislative model banning the D and E abortion method is the “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act,” based on model legislation drafted by the NRLC.

Dilation and evacuation bans have been enacted in seven states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. Laws banning D and E procedures have been blocked in three states: Alabama, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

On April 7, 2015, Kansas Gov. Brownback signed SB 95, the first D and E ban to be enacted in the United States. The law prohibits a person from performing, or attempting to perform, a “dismemberment abortion” unless it is necessary to save the life of the patient or the continuation of the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant patient. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a complaint challenging the law. The district court blocked the legislation, pending resolution of the lawsuit.

That same year, Oklahoma enacted its own D and E ban, HB 1721. The law prohibits a person from performing or attempting to perform a “dismemberment abortion” unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the pregnant patient. On October 14, 2015, an Oklahoma state court judge issued a temporary injunction in a lawsuit challenging the ban.

In 2016, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia all enacted D and E bans. Each law prohibits a person from performing or attempting to perform a “dismemberment abortion” unless it is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the patient. While the bans in Mississippi and West Virginia remain current and in effect, the law in Alabama was ruled unconstitutional and blocked. In Louisiana, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the ban on dilation and evacuation procedures, along with six other abortion restrictions that were enacted. With the case pending, the state agreed to delay enforcement of all restrictions.

Arkansas became the first state to pass a D and E ban for the 2017 legislative session. HB 1032 bans “dismemberment abortions” unless it is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the patient. The law was signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on January 27, 2017, and will take effect in summer 2017.

Nine other states (Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas) and Congress introduced D and E bans in 2017. The ban in South Dakota, HB 1189, was quickly defeated. Unlike previous legislation, the D and E bans in New York and Pennsylvania also include a prohibition on abortions after a fetus has reached 20 weeks gestation. While the bill in New York is not likely to pass, Pennsylvania’s bill passed the Senate and is currently pending in the House.

Laws

Title Number State Proposed Status
South Dakota Dilation and Evacuation Abortion Ban (HB 1241) HB 1241 South Dakota Feb 4, 2014 Failed to Pass
Kansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act (SB 95) SB 95 Kansas Jan 28, 2015 Blocked/Enjoined
Oklahoma Unborn Child Protection From ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 1721) HB 1721 Oklahoma Jan 22, 2015 Blocked/Enjoined
Kansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act (HB 2187) HB 2187 Kansas Jan 29, 2015 Failed to Pass
South Dakota ‘Preborn Infant Beheading Ban’ Amended to Personhood Resolution (HB 1230) HB 1230 South Dakota Feb 17, 2015 Failed to Pass
Missouri Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 920) HB 920 Missouri Feb 11, 2015 Failed to Pass
South Carolina ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (S 531) S 531 South Carolina Mar 10, 2015 Proposed
Kansas Prohibition on ‘Decapitation of Unborn Children’ Act (HB 2417) HB 2417 Kansas Mar 23, 2015 Failed to Pass
New Jersey Protection of Fetuses from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (A 4471) A 4471 New Jersey Jun 1, 2015 Failed to Pass
Michigan Partial-Birth Abortion and ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban Act (HB 4833) HB 4833 Michigan Aug 20, 2015 Failed to Pass
Michigan Bill Regarding “Dismemberment Abortion” Sentencing Guidelines (HB 4834) HB 4834 Michigan Aug 20, 2015 Failed to Pass
Missouri Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 1714) HB 1714 Missouri Jan 6, 2016 Failed to Pass
West Virginia Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 4004) HB 4004 West Virginia Jan 13, 2016 Failed to Pass
New Hampshire Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 1560) HB 1560 New Hampshire Dec 29, 2015 Failed to Pass
Nebraska ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (LB 767) LB 767 Nebraska Jan 6, 2016 Failed to Pass
Michigan Partial-Birth Abortion & ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban Act (SB 704) SB 704 Michigan Jan 14, 2016 Failed to Pass
Kentucky Omnibus Abortion Bill (HB 257) HB 257 Kentucky Jan 14, 2016 Failed to Pass
West Virginia ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (SB 10) SB 10 West Virginia Jan 13, 2016 Current
Michigan Sentencing Guidelines for ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ (SB 705) SB 705 Michigan Failed to Pass
Alabama ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (SB 363) SB 363 Alabama Mar 15, 2016 Blocked/Enjoined
Alabama Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 376) HB 376 Alabama Mar 8, 2016 Failed to Pass
Minnesota “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” (SF 3487) SF 3487 Minnesota Apr 7, 2016 Failed to Pass
Minnesota ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (HF 3849) HF 3849 Minnesota Apr 7, 2016 Failed to Pass
Idaho ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (S 1386) S 1386 Idaho Mar 4, 2016 Failed to Pass
Utah ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (HB 442) HB 442 Utah Feb 25, 2016 Failed to Pass
Mississippi ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion’ (HB 519) HB 519 Mississippi Feb 8, 2016 Current
New Jersey Protection of Fetuses from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ (A 1700) A 1700 New Jersey Jan 27, 2016 Proposed
Pennsylvania Bill Regarding Abortion Restrictions (HB 1948) HB 1948 Pennsylvania Apr 1, 2016 Proposed
Rhode Island ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (S 2216) S 2216 Rhode Island Jan 27, 2016 Failed to Pass
Rhode Island ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (H 7282) H 7282 Rhode Island Jan 21, 2016 Failed to Pass
South Carolina ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (H 4634) H 4634 South Carolina Jan 12, 2016 Failed to Pass
Louisiana ‘Unborn Child’ Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 1081) HB 1081 Louisiana Apr 5, 2016 Current
Pennsylvania Bill Regarding Abortion Restrictions (SB 888) SB 888 Pennsylvania Jun 6, 2016 Failed to Pass
Federal ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban Act of 2016 (S. 3306) S. 3306 Federal Sep 8, 2016 Proposed
Federal ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban Act of 2015 (H.R. 3515) H.R. 3515 Federal Sep 16, 2015 Proposed
Arkansas Unborn Child Protection from ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (HB 1032) HB 1032 Arkansas Dec 5, 2016 Signed into Law
Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill (SB 8) SB 8 Texas Jan 24, 2017 Signed into Law
Texas ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (HB 844) HB 844 Texas Jan 5, 2017 Proposed
Texas ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (SB 415) SB 415 Texas Jan 5, 2017 Proposed
Missouri ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (HB 537) HB 537 Missouri Jan 10, 2017 Failed to Pass
Rhode Island ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion’ (H 5100) H 5100 Rhode Island Jan 12, 2017 Failed to Pass
Mississippi Bill Prohibiting Abortion (HB 1197) HB 1197 Mississippi Jan 16, 2017 Failed to Pass
South Carolina ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion’ Act (H 3548) H 3548 South Carolina Jan 24, 2017 Proposed
Pennsylvania 20-Week and ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (SB 3) SB 3 Pennsylvania Feb 2, 2017 Proposed
South Dakota ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (HB 1189) HB 1189 South Dakota Feb 2, 2017 Failed to Pass
New York 20-Week and ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (A 4777) A 4777 New York Feb 3, 2017 Proposed
Maryland ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (HB 1167) HB 1167 Maryland Feb 9, 2017 Failed to Pass
Maryland ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (SB 841) SB 841 Maryland Feb 3, 2017 Proposed
Illinois ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (HB 2891) HB 2891 Illinois Feb 9, 2017 Proposed
South Carolina ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (S 564) S 564 South Carolina Mar 21, 2017 Proposed
North Carolina ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (SB 425) SB 425 North Carolina Mar 28, 2017 Proposed
Michigan Partial-Birth & ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (SB 392) SB 392 Michigan May 18, 2017 Proposed
Michigan Sentencing Guidelines for ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ (SB 391) SB 391 Michigan May 18, 2017 Proposed
Michigan Sentencing Guidelines for ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ (HB 4553) HB 4553 Michigan Apr 27, 2017 Proposed
Michigan Partial-Birth & ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban Act (HB 4552) HB 4552 Michigan Apr 27, 2017 Proposed
Pennsylvania 20-Week and ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (HB 77) HB 77 Pennsylvania Feb 21, 2017 Proposed
Ohio ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ Ban (SB 145) SB 145 Ohio May 4, 2017 Proposed