Bans on “dilation & evacuation” (or D&E) abortions are the latest front in the states’ war against a woman’s right to have an abortion, which has been waged ever since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision guaranteed that right in 1973.

D&E abortion involves dilating the woman’s cervix and removing the fetus, often in parts.  It is the safest and most widely used method of second-trimester abortion.

Last month, Kansas and Oklahoma became the first states to ban D&E abortions. The nearly identical laws, which are both referred to as the Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act, outlaw the procedure which is described in the Kansas legislation as “dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.” The laws were clearly designed to make the procedure seem as gruesome as possible, with no mention of the safety of the method.

Similar bills are pending in Missouri and South Carolina.

In Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court held that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion up until the point of fetal viability—approximately the end of the second trimester. This constitutional guarantee is meaningless if women are deprived of the safest way of exercising that right.  Bans on D&E abortions are just the latest step in states’ systematic degradation of a woman’s right to choose.

Below are links to articles in the New York Times describing this legislation:

By Sybil Shainwald

A fierce advocate for women; a tireless champion of women's health outcomes; a legal legacy fighting for reproductive freedom.