The Roe v. Wade court decision in 1973 upheld the 14th Amendment right to an abortion, stating that abortions were legally protected up until roughly 23 weeks, when a fetus may usually live outside the womb. Last year, the Supreme Court decided to hear a case challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, laying the stage for the court to revisit decades of Roe precedent.
Some state legislatures have approved laws to improve abortion access, such as in California, where a bill was passed in March to abolish out-of-pocket expenses for abortion services covered by health plans, and in Colorado, where Democratic lawmakers codified the right to an abortion.
However, many Republican-led state legislatures have already taken steps to restrict abortion access, and others are set to put into effect stringent laws that have gone unenforced since Roe v. Wade. According to a Guttmacher Institute review, 23 states have laws aimed at restricting abortion access, with some states having numerous prohibitions in effect.
Before the Roe v. Wade decision, states including Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia had abortion prohibitions that were never lifted. Others have passed near-total bans or laws restricting abortion beyond a set number of weeks, but many of them, including those in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina, have been overturned by judges.
Thirteen states have implemented so-called “trigger laws,” which are prohibitions that will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Before the statute to take effect in some situations, an official such as an attorney general must certify that Roe has been overturned.
If Roe v. Wade is reversed, these states will have “trigger laws” that will take effect relatively immediately.
In the event that Roe is reversed, Arkansas has a legislation on the books that would prohibit practically all abortions, with the exception of life-threatening medical emergencies. A medical provider who breaks the law faces up to ten years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
A federal judge halted a bill enacted by state legislators last year that sought to prohibit practically all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
If Roe is overturned, Idaho’s trigger prohibition would make delivering abortions a criminal punishable by up to five years in jail. Exceptions are made to protect the pregnant woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest.
Idaho lawmakers enacted a separate bill in March that is fashioned after Texas’ restrictive law, which outlaws abortion if embryonic heart activity is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. Family members of the fetus can potentially sue the medical provider who performed the surgery under the law.
Last month, the Texas Supreme Court temporarily suspended the ban after abortion doctors filed a lawsuit challenging it.
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, Kentucky’s legislature passed a bill in 2019 that would outlaw abortions and make conducting them a criminal. To prevent the death or significant injury of the person giving birth, only a few exceptions would be made.
In the event that Roe is overturned, Louisiana has enacted legislation prohibiting medical providers from performing abortion procedures or providing medications meant to induce abortion. The restriction would not apply to life-threatening or acute medical circumstances, but it would require the doctor to make “reasonable medical efforts” to save the adult and the fetus’ lives.
Abortions are forbidden in Mississippi within 10 days of the state attorney general’s confirmation that Roe v. Wade has been overruled. In circumstances of rape or where the procedure might save the mother’s life, there are several exceptions.
Mississippi enacted its own 15-week abortion restriction in 2018, which is the subject of the present Supreme Court lawsuit. The Supreme Court is slated to rule in June, but a draft opinion obtained by Politico implies that a majority of the justices may be inclined to overturn Roe.
If Roe is overturned, Missouri passed a law in 2019 making it illegal for medical providers to perform or induce abortions, save in circumstances of medical emergency.
The North Dakota legislature passed a law in 2007 that outlawed abortion and made it a criminal to conduct it unless it was necessary to save the mother’s life. The law would take effect “as a result of new decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States” declaring the provision constitutional.
Last month, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill making abortions illegal in the state, with exceptions for saving the life of the pregnant woman. The bill makes conducting or attempting to perform an abortion a felony punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, ten years in state prison, or both.
A second bill, passed into law last week, establishes a schedule for the implementation of measures, depending on the Supreme Court’s decision.
Since 2005, when a statute was created to provide a virtually complete ban on abortions in the event that Roe v. Wade is reversed, South Dakota has had a trigger ban on the books. The law would make abortion illegal except in life-threatening medical circumstances, and it would take effect “on the date states are recognized by the United States Supreme Court to have the authority to prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.”
A provision in Tennessee law prohibits all abortions except those that avert the mother’s death, and it takes effect 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned. Medical providers who break the legislation might face felony charges.
The so-called trigger ban, which was signed into law in June 2021, makes abortions illegal unless the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or she is in danger of serious injury. The law would take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
If Roe v. Wade is reversed, Utah approved a law in May 2020 prohibiting practically all abortions. Exceptions include situations of rape or incest, the diagnosis of severe birth deformities, and the prevention of the mother’s death or significant damage. It is a second-degree criminal to perform an abortion in contravention of the law.
Wyoming’s bill, which was signed into law last month, included a provision that would make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade is reversed, with very limited exceptions for cases of sexual assault, incest, or the danger of death or serious injury to the person giving birth.