North Dakota Bans ‘Dismemberment’ Abortions that Tear Babies Apart, Limb by Limb

Michael Foust | Contributor | Thursday, April 11, 2019
North Dakota Bans ‘Dismemberment’ Abortions that Tear Babies Apart, Limb by Limb

North Dakota Bans ‘Dismemberment’ Abortions that Tear Babies Apart, Limb by Limb

North Dakota’s governor signed a bill Wednesday outlawing a grisly abortion procedure in which an unborn baby is dismembered, limb by limb, until the uterus is empty.

The signature by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum made North Dakota the 11th state to ban a procedure medically known as dilation and evacuation, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute. Most similar laws, though, have been blocked in court.  

The new law, HB 1546, doesn’t use the medical term but instead describes it in graphic detail, calling it “human dismemberment abortion.” 

Such an abortion, according to the bill’s text, involves “intentionally dismembering a living unborn child and extracting the unborn child one piece at a time” with the “purpose of causing the death of an unborn child, through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or similar instruments.” The instruments, the text says, are used to “slice, crush, or grasp the head, arm, leg, spinal cord, internal organ, or other portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”

Medora Nagle, executive director of North Dakota Right to Life, called passage of the bill a “pro-life victory,” according to The Bismarck Tribune

Republicans control the legislature and championed the bill. Opponents complained the language was too explicit and that it was tantamount to a “graphic novel,” according to The Tribune.

The law includes an exception for a medical emergency. It goes into effect when a court allows its enforcement or when the U.S. Supreme Court “restores to the states authority to prohibit abortion.”

The doctor, not the woman, would be prosecuted. 

Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

Photo courtesy: Unsplash/

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity TodayThe Christian PostThe Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.