Thirteen states have either banned or severely restricted abortion or are likely to do so quickly now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned by the Supreme Court in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. The court upheld a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Roe had prevented any state from banning abortion and limited what restrictions they could place on it. Now any state is free to ban the procedure or limit access to it. It will almost assuredly stay legal in liberal states, but conservative ones are targeting that right. In addition to the 13 states expected to ban it almost immediately due to so-called trigger laws, there are several others where the right to abortion is threatened. Read on for more information.
Missouri became the first state to ban abortion once the Dobbs decision was released, doing so within minutes. The state, like many that were expected to move quickly, had passed a so-called trigger law, dubbed that because it would be triggered once Roe was overturned. The law bans abortions except in cases of medical emergency. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that the law would go into effect immediately. The state had only one clinic that performed surgical abortions, Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. It will cease offering abortions and will refer patients to a clinic in Illinois for the procedure, The Kansas City Star reports.
Louisiana has immediately outlawed abortion as well. It has had a trigger law in place for several years, and an update of it was signed into law by Gov. John Bel Edwards this month. Edwards, unlike most politicians who oppose abortion rights, is a Democrat. The law bans both surgical and medication abortions and took effect as soon as the Dobbs decision was issued. All three Louisiana clinics that offered the procedure — one in New Orleans, one in Baton Rouge, and one in Shreveport — have stopped performing it, the Daily Advertiser reports.
In Arkansas a trigger law means that abortion is now illegal in the state, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said at a news conference today. Performing an abortion for any reason except to save a pregnant person’s life is now a felony. Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which serves the state, will no longer offer the procedure.
Texas became infamous last year when it enacted a law banning abortions after six weeks, which is about the time a fetal heartbeat is detected, and relied on private citizens, not public officials, to enforce it by suing abortion providers or anyone who assisted in the procedure. That meant the law was unlikely to be challenged as a violation of Roe v. Wade. But it has also passed a law that bans abortion from the time of fertilization, and this will now be allowed to go into effect. It was set to take effect 30 days after the overturning of Roe, but clinics in Texas have already ceased providing abortions. District attorneys in several populous counties have said they will not prosecute doctors for performing the procedure, however.
Oklahoma has passed a ban as severe as the one in Texas, prohibiting abortions from the time of conception except if the procedure is needed to save the pregnant person’s life. State Attorney General John O’Connor certified that under the Oklahoma trigger law, the ban could take effect today. The state has enacted several other laws limiting abortion rights, but “what’s unclear now is which will be enforced, since some are contradictory in what exceptions they provide,” The Oklahoman notes.
Kentucky likewise banned abortion upon the release of the Dobbs decision, due to its trigger law. The procedure “is allowed only to save the life of a patient or prevent disabling injury,” The Courier-Journal of Louisville reports. EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the only clinic in Kentucky that provided abortions full-time, has ceased offering the procedure. But advocates for abortion rights have vowed to go on fighting.
South Dakota’s abortion ban was triggered today as well. “Abortion is now a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two years in prison and up to a $4,000 fine,” TV station KELO reports. It will be allowed only if a doctor deems it necessary to save the pregnant person’s life.
North Dakota passed a law in 2007 making abortion illegal except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the pregnant person. It will take effect within 30 days from when the state’s attorney general certifies that the Supreme Court has allowed states to prohibit abortion.
Idaho’s trigger law will go into effect in 30 days, banning abortions except in cases of rape (with a police report), incest, or if the pregnancy is life-threatening. “Doctors found violating Idaho's law would face between two and five years in prison under a felony charge,” Boise State Public Radio reports. “Their medical license would be suspended for six months after the first offense, and it would be permanently revoked for any following offenses.” That law was adopted in 2020. Also, this year, Idaho passed legislation allowing private citizens to sue any doctor who performs an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, mimicking a law passed in Texas. That Idaho law has yet to be implemented due to a court challenge; the next hearing will take place in August.
Tennessee’s law banning most abortions after six weeks is set to go into effect in 30 days, but Attorney General Herbert Slatery is trying to put it in force sooner. He has filed an emergency motion with a federal appeals court asking for the ban to go into effect as soon as possible. The court could reply as early as next week, The Tennessean reports. The law includes exceptions only to prevent the pregnant person’s death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function.”
The state’s trigger law bans abortions except if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest (and the doctor verifies it was reported to police), if there is a severe fetal defect, or if the pregnant person’s life or one of their major bodily functions is threatened. It is not clear when it will go into effect. “The bill says it becomes effective the day that the Legislature’s general counsel certifies to its management committee that a binding court has decided ‘a state may prohibit the abortion of an unborn child at any time during the gestational period, subject to the exceptions enumerated in this bill,’” The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Abortion providers in Utah said they’d continue offering the procedure for as long as they legally can.
The Supreme Court’s ruling today was brought on by a Mississippi law, enacted in 2018, that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy unless the fetus has a defect “incompatible with life” or if the pregnant person’s life or a major bodily function is threatened. The law now will take effect in 10 days under the state’s trigger legislation. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the lone remaining abortion provider in the state, had challenged it in court and has now lost at the highest court in the nation.
Wyoming has passed a law banning abortion “except in cases of rape, incest and serious risk of death or ‘substantial and irreversible physical impairments,’” WyoFile notes. The law is set to go into effect five days after Gov. Mark Gordon certifies it to the secretary of state. It’s not yet known when he will do that.
In addition to the states cited above, several states have abortion bans predating Roe that are still on the books, others have enacted bans more recently without trigger provisions, and others are likely to adopt bans. In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is fighting reinstatement of a ban that dates to 1931. Abortion rights supporters in Wisconsin are seeking to block the reinstatement of an even older ban, dating to 1849. Arizona likewise has an old abortion ban, but state officials said they will seek to enforce a more recent one, banning the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It is set to take effect this fall.
Alabama passed a law in 2019 banning abortion except when the pregnancy is life-threatening, and the state’s attorney general filed a motion in court today seeking to put it into effect; it did not have a trigger provision. West Virginia has enacted legislation making it a felony to perform an abortion unless the pregnant person is at risk of death or severe health complications, and state officials are looking at how to put it in force. Florida, under Gov. Ron DeSantis, has passed a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks, and it’s set to take effect July 1, but it’s being challenged in court.
Ohio in 2019 approved a “heartbeat law” banning abortions after six weeks. It was blocked from going into effect by a court, but state officials are seeking to have the stay lifted. Georgia also has a “heartbeat law,” which has likewise been blocked in court, but it is likely to be allowed to go into effect soon. Numerous other states may consider abortion restrictions in special sessions this summer. Stay tuned.