Communications Department

Sens. Mike Rounds and James Lankford introduce ban on dismemberment abortion in U.S. Senate

Apr 4, 2019 | 2019 Press Releases

WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee today commended Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) for their leadership in introducing the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act. This vital pro-life legislation would prohibit the performance of dismemberment abortion. The legislation is based on a model state bill proposed by National Right to Life, which has been enacted in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia. Enactment is pending gubernatorial signature in Indiana and North Dakota, and more states are expected to consider this high priority legislation in 2019..

“We thank Senator Rounds and Senator Lankford for their advocacy in advancing this dismemberment abortion ban,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “We believe this law has the power to change how the public views the gruesome reality of abortion in the United States. Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after this living baby has reached these developmental milestones.”

The Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act defines “dismemberment abortion” as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of 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 in order to cut or rip it off . . .”

This definition largely overlaps with what those in the abortion trade currently refer to as “dilation and evacuation” or “dilation and extraction” (D&E) abortions. The method is commonly used starting at about 14 weeks of pregnancy and extending into the third trimester.

The Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act allows performance of a dismemberment abortion if necessary to save a mother’s life. The bill also says that it does not limit abortions performed in cases of rape or incest, if performed by a method other than dismemberment abortion.

A medical illustration of a D&E dismemberment abortion is available here:

In his dissent in the 2000 case of Stenberg v. Carhart, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote regarding D&E abortion: “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off.”

Further information about the states that have enacted the National Right to Life model legislation, see: For additional background National Right to Life’s model legislation, see

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life, the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.