State Rep. Andy Mayberry’s attempt to stop abortion at 12 weeks pregnancy by describing the most common and, according to the medical profession, the safest procedure as “dismemberment” of an “unborn child” passed in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

No surprise. The Republican-dominated legislature will pass Mayberry’s bill, HB 1032; the governor will sign it; and the ACLU will challenge it in court as unconstitutional.


Victoria Leigh, a lawyer for the ACLU of Arkansas, spoke against the bill, noting that it substituted the legislature’s knowledge of medicine for a doctor’s.

Mayberry told the committee that 96 percent of abortions performed between 12 and 19 weeks are done by “dismemberment.” Apparently, he believes that the doctors performing those abortions are butchers who are ignoring safer methods of terminating unwanted pregnancies. His witness, Dr. Richard Wyatt, told the committee that he won’t do it because when he witnessed a procedure — he didn’t say it was dilation and evacuation, just that he participated in “these” at UAMS — 30 years ago, the doctor pulled out the “baby’s pieces” bit by bit so he could put “the baby back together like a puzzle” and then realized he had perforated the woman’s womb and part of her intestinal tract. Perhaps medicine has advanced in the past three decades; Dr. Wyatt wouldn’t know, I guess.


Mayberry disingenuously told the committee that his bill would not end abortion, just a procedure he characterized as brutal dismemberment of a baby. He is using inflammatory language rather than the medical term, dilation and evacuation, a procedure that combines suction and instruments.

The human fetus at 12 weeks is not a “baby” that can live outside the womb. Women do not destroy unwanted fetuses because they are immoral or ignorant, as Mayberry suggested the last time he introduced antiabortion legislation, and doctors do not perform abortions because they are insensitive to human life. A woman has a right to end a pregnancy before the fetus is viable; a doctor must have the right to practice medicine using the best practices he knows.


Rep. Kim Hammer (R-Benton) asked Leigh who would dare “call into question the understanding” of legislators. The ACLU in court. Many, many other people, as well.