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Abortion

partial-birth abortion

When enacting the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, the United States Congress found that moral, medical, and ethical consensus exists that the practice of performing a partial-birth abortion—an abortion in which a physician deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living, unborn child’s body until either the entire baby’s head is outside the body of the mother, or any part of the baby’s trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother and only the head remains inside the womb—for the purpose of performing an overt act (usually the puncturing of the back of the child’s skull and removing the baby’s brains) that the person knows will kill the partially delivered infant—is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that is never medically necessary and should be prohibited. See 18 U.S.C. §1531.

In enacting the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Congress further found that rather than being an abortion procedure that is embraced by the medical community, particularly among physicians who routinely perform other abortion procedures, partial-birth abortion remains a disfavored procedure that is not only unnecessary to preserve the health of the mother, but in fact poses serious risks to the long-term health of women and in some circumstances, their lives.

In addition to this federal law prohibiting partial-birth abortions, some states have passed partial-birth abortion bans. These laws are usually located in a state’s statutes.

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is a federal law that prohibits a specific type of late-term abortion known as partial-birth abortion. This procedure involves partially delivering a living fetus before performing an act to terminate its life, which Congress has deemed inhumane and unnecessary for the mother's health. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1531, performing this procedure is a federal offense, except when necessary to save the life of the mother. In Texas, state law aligns with federal regulations, and Texas has its own statutes that further restrict and regulate abortion procedures, including bans on certain late-term abortions. Texas law may also include specific criminal penalties for performing prohibited abortion procedures. It is important to note that abortion laws are subject to change due to legislative actions and court rulings, so the current status should be verified with the most recent information.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 171.101 - Partial-Birth Abortions Prohibited
This Texas statute aligns with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act by prohibiting the specific abortion procedure known as partial-birth abortion within the state.

Under this section, a person may not knowingly perform a partial-birth abortion unless it is necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself. This statute defines 'partial-birth abortion' as an abortion in which the person performing the abortion partially vaginally delivers a living unborn child before killing the unborn child and completing the delivery. Violation of this law is a state jail felony.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 171.102 - Definitions
This section provides definitions for terms used within the context of the Texas statutes regarding abortion, including the term 'partial-birth abortion'.

In this section, 'partial-birth abortion' is defined consistent with the federal definition. It refers to an abortion in which the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 171.103 - Penalties
This section outlines the penalties for performing a partial-birth abortion in violation of the Texas statute.

A person who violates Section 171.101 commits a state jail felony. If convicted, the individual faces a fine, imprisonment, or both. Additionally, the attorney general may seek injunctive relief to prevent or restrain violations of this statute.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 171.104 - Civil Remedies
This section provides for civil remedies that may be pursued if a partial-birth abortion is performed in violation of Texas law.

The father of the unborn child, if married to the mother at the time she receives a partial-birth abortion, and the maternal grandparents of the unborn child, may bring a civil action to obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion. 'Appropriate relief' includes monetary damages for all injuries, psychological and physical, occasioned by the violation of Section 171.101, and statutory damages equal to three times the cost of the partial-birth abortion.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 171.105 - Construction of Subchapter
This section ensures that the Texas statutes on partial-birth abortion are not construed in a way that conflicts with federal law.

This section states that the subchapter on partial-birth abortions does not allow the prosecution of any individual for conduct that is permissible under federal law. It also clarifies that nothing in the subchapter may be construed to allow the prosecution of a woman upon whom a partial-birth abortion is performed.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 - 18 U.S.C. § 1531
This federal statute is relevant because it specifically addresses and prohibits the practice of partial-birth abortion, which is defined and described in the statute.

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 criminalizes the performance of a partial-birth abortion, except when necessary to save the life of a mother endangered by a physical disorder, illness, or injury. A partial-birth abortion is defined as an abortion in which the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus. The Act specifies that the term 'partial-birth abortion' does not include a dilation and evacuation procedure involving the dismemberment of the fetus once it has been removed from the womb. Violation of this law is a federal felony and can result in fines and/or imprisonment for up to two years. The woman upon whom a partial-birth abortion is performed cannot be prosecuted under this law. The Act also provides for civil remedies for the spouse and parents of a woman who has had a partial-birth abortion performed on her against their will.