Supreme Court won't revive Alabama effort to ban second-trimester D&E abortions

PHOTO: The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., is pictured on March 15, 2019.PlaySusan Walsh/AP, FILE
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The Supreme Court will not review a lower court ruling striking down Alabama's ban on the most common second-trimester abortion procedure.

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The 2016 law attempted to outlaw the dilation and evacuation method, which abortion critics call "dismemberment abortions." The decision means the procedure will remain available to women seeking reproductive health services in that state.

Nearly 7% of abortions in Alabama are "D&E" abortions, according to court records.

Lower courts found the restriction amounted to an "undue burden" on women seeking access to abortion, but several judges on the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals suggested they were opposing it only because of Supreme Court precedent.

PHOTO: In this file photo, abortion rights activists are shown during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, May 21, 2019. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters, FILE
In this file photo, abortion rights activists are shown during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, May 21, 2019.

Justice Clarence Thomas, a long outspoken opponent of abortion rights, concurred with the court's decision to deny review in the case. But in an opinion attached to the order, he criticized the "dismemberment of a living child" and said the court's abortion decisions "have spiraled out of control."

In a statement, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project senior staff attorney Andrew Beck said, "While we are pleased to see the end of this particular case, we know that it is nowhere near the end of efforts to undermine access to abortion. Politicians are lining up to do just what Alabama did -- ask the courts to review laws that push abortion out of reach and harm women's health, with the hope of the getting the Supreme Court to undermine, or even overturn, a woman's right to abortion."