Abortions in the US are now banned, limited, or soon to be restricted in these states
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights has given state lawmakers across the country the power to restrict or ban abortion. The result will be a patchwork of laws that vary based on where a person lives.
An analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, found that 23 states have laws on the books, as of May 1st, that could be used to restrict abortion rights in absence of Roe.
The states that are affected are: Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
A trigger law is a law that is unenforceable but may achieve enforceability if a key change in circumstances occurs, like the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Some states' trigger laws will take effect 30 days after the overturn date, and others take effect upon certification by either the governor or attorney general.
These are the states with trigger laws: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Six minutes after the Supreme Court’s decision, Missouri’s attorney general, Eric Schmitt, certified this decision, and tweeted: “Following the SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Missouri has just become the first in the country to effectively end abortion with our AG opinion signed moments ago. This is a monumental day for the sanctity of life.”
The Missouri law, which provides no exception for cases of abuse, classifies the act of inducing an abortion as a class B felony, meaning it could result in a 5 to 15-year prison sentence, according to the NPR station.
The Missouri law applies to abortion providers, though it’s unclear whether someone could be prosecuted for using abortion-inducing medications.
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In South Dakota all abortions are against the law “unless there is appropriate and reasonable medical judgment that performance of an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant female”, announced South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem.
South Dakota’s top state lawmakers, said that they were planning a special legislative session “to save lives and help mothers impacted by the decision”.
Kentucky’s abortion prohibition, which permits the procedure solely to save a pregnant person’s life or prevent a debilitating injury, has also gone into effect, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The state’s trigger law similarly stated that the state’s anti-abortion legislation “shall become effective immediately”.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky reportedly said that the state’s only full-time abortion clinic has stopped providing these procedures “as a precaution”.
People seeking abortions will have few options within close proximity, as Illinois and Virginia are the only two of the seven states neighboring Kentucky that have mostly unrestricted reproductive health services.
Louisiana’s abortion went into effect after Roe was overturned. It bans most abortions and makes providing them illegal. The law does not provide any exceptions for cases of abuse, no matter the age of the pregnant person, according to Nola.com, a New Orleans news website.
The Louisiana law allows exceptions when there is an extreme risk of death or disability. The statute requires that a doctor makes “reasonable” efforts to save the fetus and mother, Nola.com said. Legislators in the state also ruled to criminalize mail or internet-based purchase of abortion pills.
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Arkansas’s abortion ban will go into effect as soon as the state’s attorney certifies it. Almost all abortions are prohibited, except when a pregnant person faces a life-threatening medical emergency, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Mississippi’s ban will go into effect “within days” and also requires the state attorney general’s sign-off, according to The Washington Post.
North Dakota, Wyoming and Utah will see bans within 30 days once state authorities officially recognize the Supreme Court’s decision, as well as Idaho and Tennessee, according to The Washington Post.
In Alabama, the state’s three abortion clinics stopped performing the procedure for fear providers would be prosecuted under a law dating to 1951. At the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, the staff had to tell women in the waiting room Friday morning that they could not perform any more abortions, according to The Guardian.
“A lot of them just started breaking down crying. Can you imagine if you had driven 12 hours to receive this care in this state and you are not able to?”, clinic owner Dalton Johnson said to The Guardian. Patients were given a list of out-of-state places still doing abortions, he added.
Abortion providers across Arizona also stopped doing procedures while they try to determine if a law dating to pre-statehood days before 1912 means doctors and nurses will face prison time now, according to The Guardian.
In Texas, providers wondered which law they had to follow: a 1925 ban, a 2021 law that limits abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy, or a trigger law that bans the procedure outright, but wouldn’t take effect for a month or more. The confusion led them to suspend abortions too.
In Texas, the Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, warned they could face immediate prosecution for performing abortions under the Prohibition-era ban, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison.
West Virginia governor, Jim Justice, said he will not hesitate to call the legislature into special session if the ban needs to be clarified. A 19th-century abortion ban, punishable by prison, led the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia to stop performing the procedure.
In Ohio, a federal judge dissolved an injunction, allowing a 2019 state law to take effect banning most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which happens as early as 5 to 6 weeks after gestation.
Given the fierce opposition to abortion from the governor and Legislature, Oklahoma will continue to prohibit the practice if states are given the option to do so.
Nevertheless, Oklahoma abortion providers are taking steps to help patients seek abortions out of state, including coordinating funding for these women and developing a referral network of therapists to help address complications before or after a woman receives an abortion, according to AP.
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The highest courts in nine states have recognized the right to an abortion under their respective constitutions, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The state constitutional protections ensure abortion will remain legal even without Roe.
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Alaska, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana and New Jersey. However, some of these states, such as Florida, have passed laws restricting access, while others, like Montana, have had abortion restrictions temporarily blocked.
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In Florida, a 15-week ban was signed into law in April and goes into effect July 1st. Though only about 2% of Florida’s abortions take place after the 15th week, abortion rights advocates have expressed concern over declining access to the procedure, according to AP.
Iowa had been on that list, but the state Supreme Court ruled in June that the right to an abortion is not protected under the state's constitution, reversing a decision by the court four years ago. Iowa's GOP-controlled legislature and governor have signaled they will move to further restrict abortion access.
Kansas has a legislature controlled by Republicans who want to ban or restrict access to abortions but a Democratic governor who supports access and is up for re-election this year. If voters approve the amendment, the Legislature would still have to approve the new restrictions, and lawmakers are out of session until January 2023.
Nevertheless, they can call themselves in to special session with two-thirds majorities, but they’re likely to wait until after voters decide in the November general election whether to give Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly a second term, according to AP.
Both chambers of Michigan’s legislature are controlled by Republicans who want to ban abortion, but the state’s Democratic governor supports access. Abortion rights supporters hope to put the issue on ballots this fall. They need 425,000 voter signatures by July 11 to make the ballot and the measure would become law if voters approved it.
Democratic-led states have moved to preserve abortion rights. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have taken such steps: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.