AG Curtis Hill Defends Ban On Abortions In Which Living Fetuses Are Ripped From The Womb


Attorney General Curtis Hill last week filed documents in U.S. district court defending an Indiana law banning dismemberment abortions. In these second-trimester procedures, physicians use forceps to rip live fetuses piece by piece from their mothers’ wombs. As they are being dismembered, the fetuses bleed to death.

Representing a physician who performs dismemberment abortions, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in April challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s ban on the procedure. On May 17, Attorney General Hill filed a response to an ACLU motion for a preliminary injunction against the law that would prevent it from going into effect July 1 as planned.

“Indiana has a compelling interest in protecting the value and dignity of fetal life by banning a brutal and inhumane procedure,” Attorney General Hill said. “This ban on dismembering a live fetus imposes no undue burden whatsoever on a woman’s decision whether or not to bear a child.”

Under current Indiana law, a physician performing a second-trimester abortion has multiple options. For example, he or she may administer one of several available chemicals that cause fetal death in the womb. Once a fetus is dead, a physician may then proceed with dismemberment and extraction – avoiding the prospects of fetal pain and suffering that coincide with live dismemberment.

Two other abortion options during the second trimester include: 1) inducing labor to cause delivery of a non-viable fetus and 2) snipping the fetus’s umbilical cord, which causes the fetus to die within a few minutes, at which time the physician may proceed with dismemberment and extraction.

“These other second-trimester abortion procedures, though repugnant, do not impose additional undue cruelty upon a live being,” Attorney General Hill said. “In Indiana, we should stand strong for a culture of life and protect our fellow humans as far as the U.S. Supreme Court will allow. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Indiana’s prohibition against dismemberment abortions would not affect the legality of any other legally permitted abortion procedures.”

The plaintiff in this case, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, performs dismemberment abortions at IU Health Methodist and Eskenazi hospitals, both in Indianapolis.