Maryland ‘Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act’ (SB 841)
This law was last updated on Jan 17, 2018
SB 841 would prohibit a person from purposely performing or attempting to perform a “dismemberment abortion” and thereby killing an “unborn child” unless it is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the life of the pregnant patient.
The bill defines “dismemberment abortion” to mean:
[…]the intent to cause the death of the unborn child, to purposely dismember a living unborn child by using clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off and to extract the pieces of the body of the unborn child one at a time with the aforementioned devices or tools or by use of a suction device.
The bill defines “attempting to perform a dismemberment abortion” to mean:
- Agreeing with an individual to perform a dismemberment abortion on the individual or on any other individual , whether or not:
- the term “dismemberment abortion” is used in the agreement; or
- the agreement is contingent on another factor such as receipt or payment or a determination of pregnancy; and
- Scheduling or planning a time to perform a dismemberment abortion on an individual, whether or not:
- the term “dismemberment abortion” is used; or
- the performance of the dismemberment abortion is contingent on another factor such as receipt or payment or a determination of pregnancy.
A person who is accused of violating this provision may seek a hearing before the State Board of Physicians regarding whether the “dismemberment abortion” was necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant patient.
The bill states that the pregnant patient may not be held liable.
The bill would allow certain individuals to pursue injunctive relief and civil damages against another person who violates this provision.
A cause of action for injunctive relief against a person who has purposely violated this provision may be maintained by:
- The woman who receives or attempted to receive a dismemberment abortion;
- A person who is the spouse, parent, or legal guardian of or a current or former licensed health-care provider of the patient who receives or attempted to receive a dismemberment abortion; or
- A prosecuting attorney with appropriate jurisdiction.
The injunction would prevent the abortion provider from performing or attempting to perform dismemberment abortions that violate the law.
With this clause, a spouse or legal guardian may be able sue to prevent the pregnant individual from getting an abortion.
The bill would allow the pregnant patient, the husband of the pregnant patient, or the maternal grandparents (if the pregnant patient was a minor) to bring civil action against an individual who performed a dismemberment abortion.
This law targets a procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D and E), which is frequently used during second-trimester abortions. 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 D and E procedure must be used to perform an abortion. As such, dilation and evacuation bans, depending upon their language, may ban all surgical abortion past 14 weeks’ gestation. (Source.)
This law is based on model legislation designed by the National Right to Life Committee.
Companion bill to HB 1167.
- National Right to Life Committee — Drafted Model Law