Justice Thomas: “SCOTUS Must Face Abortion Decisions”

Jul 1, 2019

Justice Clarence Thomas challenged the justices to confront the realities of what the Supreme Court “has wrought” through abortion rulings after it declined Friday to revive Alabama’s ban prohibiting dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion.

Justice Thomas joined his colleagues in deciding not to hear West Alabama Women’s Center v. Thomas Miller, but he said the Court eventually must face the consequences from its past abortion decisions. The justice said that it is “implausible” that the Constitution would protect the dismemberment of a living child.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act that prohibits “dismemberment” abortions of live unborn babies, although two of the three judges indicated they would have upheld the law but were bound by Supreme Court precedent. 


In his concurring opinion Justice Thomas wrote, “The notion that anything in the Constitution prevents States from passing laws prohibiting the dismembering of a living child is implausible.” He also quoted the circuit court’s decision in describing the abortion procedure in detail: “It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb. It can, however, survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off. . .  At the end of the abortion -- after the larger pieces of the unborn child have been torn off with forceps and the remaining pieces sucked out with a vacuum -- the abortionist is left with a tray full of pieces.”

“This case serves as a stark reminder that our abortion jurisprudence has spiraled out of control. Earlier this Term, we were confronted with lower court decisions requiring States to allow abortions based solely on the race, sex, or disability of the child. …Today, we are confronted with decisions requiring States to allow abortion via live dismemberment. None of these decisions is supported by the text of the Constitution. Although this case does not present the opportunity to address our demonstrably erroneous “undue burden” standard, we cannot continue blinking the reality of what this Court has wrought,” wrote Thomas.

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