Several states seek to block 2nd trimester abortion method

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Abortion opponents in Mississippi, West Virginia and several other states are filing bills to ban an abortion procedure commonly used in the second trimester that opponents describe as dismembering a fetus.

Courts have already blocked similar laws that Kansas and Oklahoma enacted in 2015.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents abortion providers in legal fights, says banning the dilation and evacuation method of abortion – commonly called "D&E" – is unconstitutional because it interferes with private medical decisions.

"Laws like these are an attack on women's health, personal autonomy, and the doctor-patient relationship, and they have the potential to force physicians to subject women seeking safe and legal abortion services in the second trimester to additional invasive and unnecessary procedures," Kelly Baden, the center's director of state advocacy, said in a letter this week to West Virginia lawmakers.

Baden said dilation and evacuation is the safest method for the second trimester and is used for about 95 percent of all second-trimester abortions in the U.S.

The Mississippi bill uses language provided by the Washington-based National Right to Life Committee. It would prohibit any abortion that would involve extracting a live fetus in pieces from the uterus using instruments like clamps and forceps, calling that procedure a "dismemberment abortion."