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 Legislative Testimony

Testimony in Support of South Carolina's HB 3548: Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, Spring 2018

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Ingrid Duran

State Legislatve Director

National Right to Life Committee

Bioethics in Law & Culture

Summer  2018   vol. 1  issue 3 

Spring 2018


Testimony of Ingrid Duran., State Legislative Director, National Right to Life Committee: Support of H.B. 3548, South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act

Mr. Chairman, Members of this subcommittee thank you for the opportunity to ask for your support on H.B. 3548.  The South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.

My name is Ingrid Duran and I am the State Legislative Director for the National Right to Life Committee.  I have worked in the State Legislation Department for the last 23 years.  I assist our affiliates in passing protective prolife legislation by drafting and analyzing legislation, researching policy issues and trends and working closely with state legislators and also state attorney general’s offices.  We have been productive in enacting laws like parental involvement, woman’s right to know/informed consent, partial birth abortion bans, pain-capable unborn child protection act, and now the unborn child protection from dismemberment act.

If enacted this law would protect living unborn children from the dismemberment abortion procedure.  This does not ban all D&E abortions, only the ones performed on living unborn children.  HB 3548 also has an exception if there is a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.

Dismemberment abortions are a common and brutal type of D&E abortion which involves dismembering a living unborn child piece by piece.  This horrific abortion is typically performed on living, developing, unborn children. 

We already know that by 18-21 days following fertilization, the unborn child has a beating heart and is making her own blood, often a different blood type than her mother’s. At six weeks, she has brain waves, legs, arms, eyelids, toes, and fingerprints.  By eight weeks, every organ (kidneys, liver, brain, etc.) is in place, and even teeth and fingernails have developed. 

Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has met these milestones.  Any unborn child aborted using the dismemberment abortion procedure after 20 weeks would feel the pain of being ripped apart during the abortion.  Medical science demonstrates that certainly by 20 weeks after fertilization the unborn child has the necessary structures to experience pain.

Similar to the partial birth abortion method, the dismemberment abortion procedure is just as barbaric.  During the partial-birth abortion hearings in Stenberg v. Carhart case, the public learned from known abortionist Dr. Leroy Carhart what occurs during a dismemberment abortion. 

“My normal course would be to dismember that appendage and then go back and try to take the fetus out whether foot or skull first, whatever end I can get to first….Just pulling and rotation, grasping the portion that you can get hold of which would be usually somewhere up the shaft of the exposed portion of the fetus …I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound.” (Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 946-947)


In Gonzales v. Carhart,[1] Justice Anthony Kennedy said that this abortion procedure that:

“No one would dispute, that, for many, D & E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.” (Gonzales, 550 U.S. at 158).  

Currently, eight (8) states have passed an Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion.[2] It is in litigation in 6 of those states.  However, it is still in the litigation process and I believe these laws are constitutional.  As I mentioned earlier the cases that ultimately led the United States Supreme court to justify a law that protects unborn children from a type of procedure that is inhumane, I also believe that we currently have the votes on the U.S. Supreme Court that would conclude that protecting living unborn children from dismemberment will also be constitutional. 


In Gonzales, the partial-birth abortion ban was upheld by the court based on the government’s “interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession,”[3] and on the “premise . . . that the State, from the inception of the pregnancy, maintains its own regulatory interest in protecting the life of the fetus that may become a child . . . .  Where it has a rational basis to act, and it does not impose an undue burden, the State may use its regulatory power to bar certain procedures and substitute others, all in furtherance of its legitimate interests in regulating the medical profession in order to promote respect for life, including life of the unborn.”[4]


I believe that we can expect the court to hold a similar opinion regarding the dismemberment abortion ban.  Just because it is common, does not make it right.  I encourage you to please pass this bill and make South Carolina the 9th state to protect living unborn children from this gruesome abortion procedure.


[1] 550 U.S. 124 (2007).


[3] Id. at 157, quoting Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 731(1997).

[4] Gonzales, 550 U.S. at 158.

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