A leaked draft of a majority opinion indicates that the Supreme Court could strike down its ruling in the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional protection for abortion for all Americans. With a final ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization likely to come before the end of June, many states have been preparing for the moment for years.
Thirteen states have passed “trigger laws” on abortion. These laws, which generally ban almost all abortions, would automatically go into effect after a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Republican legislators have drafted and advanced all of the trigger laws to make abortions illegal, and all of the states passing new laws to criminalize abortion have Republican-controlled legislatures.
Though some states have passed laws that protect their citizens’ right to receive an abortion, in others, the future of the right to an abortion is less certain. Read on to learn the status of the abortion regulations across the US, in each of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and how an overturning of Roe v. Wade could affect the laws in each locale.
Understanding state abortion laws
To understand the abortion laws of each state, it helps to know the meaning of the frequently used terms and nationwide legal provisions as defined by the Supreme Court.
“Fetal viability” means the ability of a fetus to live outside of the uterus. The Supreme Court and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology consider a fetus to be viable at a stage of 24 to 28 weeks, though there’s no hard line. A fetus at any stage that can’t live independently is considered “non-viable.” Most states that allow abortions restrict or ban them after fetal viability. Some states that ban abortions allow exceptions for “fatal fetal anomalies.”
Almost all state laws banning abortion allow exceptions for “life-threatening pregnancies” or medical emergencies. Several states with more restrictive abortion laws require that two physicians must diagnose the pregnancy as life-threatening. Very few state abortion bans include exceptions for rape or incest.
“Weeks of pregnancy” and “gestational age” are both generally defined as the time since the first day of the last menstrual period before pregnancy. Abortion bans “after X weeks” use this measure. Some states ban abortions after a certain number of weeks “postfertilization,” meaning the time period after a sperm has fertilized an ovum and created a zygote.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines the start of pregnancy not at fertilization but at the time of the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus, which occurs about a week after fertilization. Per the American Pregnancy Association, it’s also very difficult to determine the exact time of fertilization, which is why most medical providers use the last menstrual period to determine gestational age.
According to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 79% of abortions in the US in 2019 occurred before nine weeks’ gestation, and 93% occurred before 13 weeks. Some state laws outlaw abortion at six to seven weeks, before many people are aware they’re pregnant.
The state anti-abortion laws discussed below are specifically drafted to address abortion providers, not pregnant people seeking abortion from providers.
What are trigger laws and which states have them?
The 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade established an absolute, constitutional right to abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. It also said that abortions couldn’t be banned before fetal viability.
Since then, state legislatures have passed many laws restricting abortion that have been struck down by courts. “Trigger laws” avoid constitutional lawsuits by delaying their effective dates until a time when the Supreme Court decides to allow states to make abortions illegal.
Here are the states with current trigger laws that are designed to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade falls:
In 2005, South Dakota passed a trigger law that will ban abortion except to “save the life of the mother” and will take effect “on the date that the states are recognized by the United States Supreme Court to have the authority to regulate or prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.”
Louisiana‘s abortion trigger law was passed in 2006. It bans all abortions, except “when necessary to prevent substantial risk of death or permanent impairment under certain circumstances.”
Both Mississippi and North Dakota followed with abortion trigger bans in 2007. Mississippi’s legislation outlaws all abortions, except in cases of rape or to save the life of the pregnant person, as does North Dakota’s law that criminalizes providing abortion, making it punishable by a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In 2009, Missouri passed a trigger law that would ban abortions after six to seven weeks.
In 2019, three more states enacted trigger bans on abortion. Arkansas‘ law would make abortion a felony, with a potential punishment of 10 years in prison or a fine up to $100,000. Kentucky‘s law would ban abortion at six to seven weeks. And Tennessee passed a law that would criminalize all abortions, excepting life-threatening pregnancies, 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Since then, five states have passed similar trigger laws that ban abortion in almost all cases if the Roe v. Wade decision is reversed. They are: Idaho (Senate Bill 1309), Oklahoma (SB 1503), Texas (HR 1280), Utah (SB 174) and Wyoming (House Bill 92).
Two more states have potential trigger bans in the works. In January, Nebraska proposed its own law to ban abortion, but the legislation failed to get the necessary supermajority of votes. The Ohio legislature has proposed a trigger ban, House Bill 480, but the bill is still in committee, with no scheduled vote.
In addition to those states with established or proposed trigger bans, other states have laws that aren’t written to take effect if Roe falls but nonetheless will become enforceable if that happens.
Alabama‘s House Bill 314 would ban all abortions, regardless of reason or timing. Arizona‘s House Bill 314 and Florida‘s House Bill 5 would both ban abortion after 15 weeks. Georgia‘s HB 481 and South Carolina‘s amendments to its legal code would ban abortions after six to seven weeks, though both state’s laws include exceptions for rape or incest.
Three other states have laws banning abortion that were written before Roe v. Wade and may become enforceable again. Wisconsin has an 1849 criminal abortion statute that’s still on the books. West Virginia has a statute that’s a holdover from an 1848 Virginia law that makes providing any abortions a felony, though recent state law may supersede it. Finally, Michigan has a 1931 law that criminalizes abortion.
What are the current state abortion laws and how might they change?
If the ruling on Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, access to abortion could become extremely different from state to state. Below are the situations in each state, as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
In Alabama, abortions are prohibited after 22 weeks. The state also requires state-directed counseling, ultrasound, a 48-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors.
In 2019, Alabama passed HB 314, banning almost all abortions, excepting life-threatening pregnancies. The law has been put on hold due to legal challenges but would go into immediate effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Abortions are fully legal in Alaska, though state-directed counseling is required, as is parental consent for minors. Alaska’s Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is protected by the state constitution. Some anti-abortion activists have proposed a constitutional convention as a path toward banning abortion in the state. Voters will decide by referendum in November whether to hold such a convention.
Arizona allows abortions until fetal viability, though it requires state-directed counseling, ultrasound, a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, a new law would ban abortions after 15 weeks, excepting medical emergencies.
In Arkansas, abortions are illegal after 22 weeks. The state requires counseling, ultrasound, a 72-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors.
Abortion will be banned entirely in Arkansas if the US Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. A law passed in 2019 — HB 318 — would outlaw abortions, except for life-threatening pregnancies.
Abortions are legal in California until fetal viability. In 2002, the state passed a law guaranteeing the right to abortion. Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged to make California an “abortion sanctuary” state and has proposed amending the state constitution to protect abortion access.
Colorado allows abortion until fetal viability. The state’s only major restriction is that parents of minors must be notified. In 2020, Colorado voters rejected a proposal to ban abortions after 22 weeks. In April, Colorado passed HB 22-1279, protecting the right to an abortion.
Connecticut allows abortions and has no pending legislation restricting abortion. A bill that protects medical providers and patients seeking abortion was recently passed, and Gov. Ned Lamont has committed to signing it into law.
Delaware allows abortions until fetal viability. In April, the Delaware General Assembly passed legislation allowing physicians’ assistants and registered nurses to prescribe abortion medication, but Gov. Jay Carney hasn’t yet indicated if he’ll sign it.
Abortion in the District of Columbia is legal. The Council of the District of Columbia codified the right to abortion into law with DC Law 23-90.
Abortion is legal in Florida until 24 weeks. The state also requires parental consent for minors, counseling and ultrasound.
In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law that would ban all abortions after 15 weeks. The law is set to take effect July 1, but under the existing opinion of Roe v. Wade, it would likely be challenged as unconstitutional.
Abortion is legal in Georgia up to 20 weeks. The state requires parental consent for minors, counseling, ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period.
A Georgia law passed in 2019 would ban most abortions in the state after six to seven weeks if Roe is overturned. The exceptions would be in cases of rape or incest (up to 20 weeks) or life-threatening pregnancies.
In 1970, Hawaii become the first state to legalize abortion completely. In 2006, it amended the law to specifically ensure full access to abortions. Abortions are legal in Hawaii up to fetal viability, and there aren’t any legislative efforts to restrict it.
Idaho allows abortions up to 22 weeks, and offers exceptions after that point only for cases where the person’s life is in danger if they don’t end the pregnancy.
In March, Idaho passed a bill modeled on Texas law that would ban all abortions after six weeks. The Idaho Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the law, but if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it would go into effect immediately.
Abortion is legal in Illinois, up until the point of fetal viability. In 2019, the state removed some of its regulations for abortion providers with a law declaring a “fundamental right” to abortion. Abortion access in Illinois isn’t expected to change if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Indiana allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization but has strict limits, including banning abortion medication after 10 weeks and requiring state-directed counseling and an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion.
In 2019, Indiana passed a law banning dilation and evacuation abortions, but a federal judge blocked it. The General Assembly also introduced a bill in 2019 to outlaw almost all abortions, but it hasn’t yet been passed.
Iowa allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization and requires an ultrasound and parental notification for minors. In 2019, the state passed a law criminalizing all abortions after six weeks. The legislation was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court, and its status wouldn’t change if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
Kansas bans abortions after 22 weeks and requires patients to undergo ultrasounds and state directed counseling.
Some state legislators attempted to ban D&E, or dilation and evacuation, abortions, in 2019, but the law was struck down by the state Supreme Court. A proposed amendment would deny state constitutional protections for abortion and is scheduled to be voted on by Kansans in August.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, almost all abortions in Kentucky will become illegal. Kentucky was one of the first states in 2019 to pass a trigger law that would effectively end abortions.
Kentucky currently allows abortions up to 22 weeks and requires parental consent for minors, ultrasound, state directed counseling and a 24-hour waiting period. In November, voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution to specifically exclude any potential protections for abortion.
Louisiana bans abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Ultrasounds and waiting periods are required, and abortion medication can’t be prescribed via telemedicine.
In 2006, Louisiana passed a trigger law that will ban all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Exceptions will be made only for life endangerment. In 2020, Louisiana amended its state constitution to remove any language that might imply the right to abortion.
Maine allows abortions up to fetal viability, and beyond that in cases of life endangerment. In 2019, Maine codified legal abortions into state law and also passed legislation allowing nondoctors to perform abortions. In April, the state passed a law protecting abortion patients at clinics.
Abortions are legal in Maryland up until the point of fetal viability. Parents must be notified in the case of a minor.
In 1992, Maryland voters passed a state referendum that legalized access to abortion. The ballot measure was intended to protect abortion in Maryland in case the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Massachusetts allows abortion until fetal viability. In 2018 the state passed a law removing outdated restrictions on abortion.
In late 2020, the state also passed legislation called the Roe Act, which expanded access to abortion and made it explicitly legal in the case of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Abortions in Michigan are legal until fetal viability, though state-directed counseling and a 24-hour waiting period are required.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, an old Michigan law from 1931 will likely take effect, making all abortions illegal. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has sued to block the law, saying that the due process and equal protection clauses of the state constitution make it invalid.
Minnesota’s abortion restrictions are similar to Michigan’s: Parents of minors must give consent, and patients are required to undergo state-directed counseling and a 24-hour waiting period regardless of age. However, Minnesotans’ right to abortion is protected by a 1995 ruling by the state’s Supreme Court, and Gov. Tim Walz has declared that “no abortion ban will ever become law” during his term.
Mississippi has some of the strictest limits on abortion in the US. Its Gestational Age Act of 2018 is the subject of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case that may lead to an overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Though the 2018 law restricts abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, a trigger law passed in 2007 will outlaw all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Missouri has strict abortion controls, including many restrictions on abortion providers. The state has one operating abortion clinic.
Abortions are banned after 20 weeks’ gestational age and require state-directed counseling, ultrasound and a 72-hour waiting period. A 2019 law would make all abortions after eight weeks illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Abortion in Montana is protected by a 1999 state Supreme Court decision that won’t be affected if Roe v. Wade is overturned. However, state Attorney General Austin Knudsen has asked the Montana Supreme Court to overturn the 1999 decision.
Several state abortion restrictions passed in 2021 are being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood. Pending legislation would ban abortions after 20 weeks’ gestational age and block providing abortion medication through the mail.
Abortions in Nebraska are legal up to 22 weeks. The state requires mandated counseling and a 24-hour waiting period, as well as parental consent for minors and a ban on telemedicine for abortion medication.
In February, the state failed to pass a trigger law that would ban all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Nebraska legislators have indicated they may call a special session to try again to pass the bill.
Nevada allows legal abortions up until 24 weeks. In 1990, state law revisions protecting abortion were passed by referendum and can’t be changed by the legislature without a repeal from state voters. Only physicians can perform abortions, and parental consent is required for minors.
New Hampshire has no specific laws protecting abortion. New state law in 2022 makes abortions after 24 weeks illegal and adds an ultrasound requirement and parental consent for minors. A proposed bill to amend the law to allow abortions after 24 weeks in the case of fatal fetal anomalies has recently passed the legislature and is expected to be signed by Gov. Chris Sununu.
Abortion is legal in New Jersey and will remain so if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The state’s Assembly Bill 6260, passed in January, protects the right to abortion. It also removed several restrictions from the law, including the requirement that only physicians can provide abortions. In 2000, the state Supreme Court struck down a law requiring parental consent for minors.
In 1969, New Mexico passed a law criminalizing abortion, but the state legislature repealed it in February 2021. The repeal law also removed the requirement of parental consent for abortion. There’s no law protecting abortion in New Mexico, but the overturning of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t immediately affect abortion access.
The state of New York legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the US Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. In 2019, the New York legislature expanded abortion access by removing restrictions such as the requirement that only physicians provide abortions. The state’s Section 2599-BB removed abortion from the criminal code and allows abortion after 24 weeks in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy or a nonviable fetus.
Abortion is legal in North Carolina until fetal viability, but the state includes several restrictions, including parental consent for minors, ultrasound, mandatory state-directed counseling and a 72-hour waiting period.
The North Carolina legislature has passed several more restrictions, which have been vetoed by the governor. A state law banning abortions after 20 weeks could take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
North Dakota allows abortions before 20 weeks postfertilization, but the state has a trigger law, passed in 2013, that will outlaw abortions six weeks after the last menstrual cycle. The state also has several restrictions, like a 24-hour waiting period, parental consent for minors and no telemedicine for abortion medication.
Abortions are legal in Ohio up to 20 weeks after fertilization, though they require mandatory counseling, a 24-hour waiting period and an ultrasound.
An Ohio bill proposed in 2021 would outlaw all abortions except in the case of a life-threatening pregnancy. A separate proposed bill modeled after Texas law would allow private citizens to sue anyone performing abortions, for a minimum of $10,000.
Oklahoma allows abortions up to 20 weeks postfertilization, but new laws passed in 2022 will mostly outlaw abortion completely if Roe v. Wade is overturned. A bill passed in April makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions.
A trigger law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt at the start of May will prohibit abortions after six weeks if Roe v. Wade falls. A new and separate bill that passed the Oklahoma legislature on May 19 bans abortions after conception, or fertilization. Like Texas’ standing ban on abortion after six weeks, Oklahoma’s new law attempts to avoid constitutional challenges by relying on enforcement via civil lawsuits by private citizens. It went into effect immediately after it was signed by Stitt on May 25.
Oregon doesn’t have any major restrictions on abortion and has enacted laws in the past decade to expand access to abortion. In 2017, the state allowed nonphysician health professionals to provide abortion and also passed a Reproductive Health Equity Act that requires private insurers to cover the costs of abortion. Voters also rejected a proposed measure in 2018 to restrict use of state money for abortion.
Pennsylvania allows abortions up to 24 weeks after the last menstrual period. In 1982, the state legislature passed legislation that added the requirements of state directed counseling, ultrasound, a 24-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors. Abortion law in Pennsylvania won’t be immediately affected if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Abortion has been legal in Puerto Rico since 1937, and before Roe v. Wade, the island territory was a destination for some Americans living in states where they couldn’t legally get an abortion. In 2019, Puerto Rico passed some of its first restrictions, including the requirement of parental consent for minors.
A bill proposed in 2022 and currently under debate, Senate Project 693, would restrict abortions to 22 weeks after fertilization.
Abortions are legal and minimally restricted in Rhode Island. Parental consent is required for minors, and only physicians are allowed to perform abortions. In 2019, the state passed legislation that repealed an unconstitutional law criminalizing abortions after 12 weeks and added some statutory protections for abortion. The law doesn’t guarantee the right to abortion, however.
Abortion is strictly limited in South Carolina, with required state-based counseling, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on abortions after 20 weeks postfertilization. In 2019, the state passed a law outlawing abortions after six weeks, but it’s been prohibited pending the resolution of the Mississippi law by the Supreme Court.
South Dakota bans abortions after 22 weeks, requires counseling and mandates a 72-hour waiting period. A law signed in March 2022 further restricts abortion medication. A trigger law passed in 2005 would ban abortions except for life-threatening pregnancies.
Tennessee has heavy restrictions on abortion, including state-directed counseling, a 48-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors. Tennessee voters amended the state constitution in 2014 to specifically remove abortion protections granted by a state Supreme Court ruling in 2000.
In 2019, Tennessee passed Senate Bill 1257, which will effectively ban all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Texas has some of the most severe restrictions on abortion in the country, if not the world.
In May 2021, Texas passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortion after six weeks. The law is designed to skirt the Roe v. Wade decision by leaving enforcement to private individuals through civil lawsuits. In December, the US Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit against the legislation. Also that month, a Texas judge ruled that SB 8 violates the Texas Constitution, but he did not enjoin the law, which remains in effect while the ruling is appealed.
Texas also passed a trigger law in 2021 that would criminalize abortion, with possible life sentences and fines up to $100,000. It would take effect 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Abortion would likely become illegal in almost all cases in Utah if Roe v. Wade were overturned. A trigger law passed in 2020 would make all abortions criminal, except in the cases of a life-threatening pregnancy, rape, incest or “severe brain abnormality” in a fetus. The law makes performing an abortion punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In 2018, Utah also passed a law restricting abortion to 18 weeks, but that law has been enjoined pending a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. For abortions that are currently legal, Utah requires state-based counseling, a 72-hour waiting period and parental consent for minors.
Vermont has no major restrictions on abortion. The state had a pre-Roe law that criminalized abortion, but that was ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in 1972 and repealed by the legislature in 2014.
Vermont expressly protected the right to abortion in 2019 with Act 47, which established a right to abortion without government interference.
Virginia has had many changing restrictions on abortion over the past few years. It passed a law in 2020 that repealed several previously existing abortion restrictions, including a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that only physicians provide abortions.
In 2021, the state passed a law that removed a prohibition on state exchange insurance coverage of abortion. Abortion is generally legal in Virginia up until the 25th week of pregnancy.
Abortion has been legal in Washington since 1971, when the state repealed criminal penalties for abortion, though it limited its protections to people living in the state for a certain period of time. Abortions are fully legal before fetal viability as defined by the Supreme Court.
Washington passed a law in 2018 that recognizes the right to abortion and requires insurers that provide maternity care to pay for abortions. In March, the state passed another law that specifically prohibits Texas-style lawsuits for abortion.
West Virginia bans abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy The state requires counseling, a 24-hour waiting period and parental notification for minors. A pre-Roe law on the books in West Virginia makes providing abortion punishable by three to 10 years in prison, though it’s unclear if it will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
A 2022 law similar to Mississippi’s restricts abortions to 15 weeks. In 2018, West Virginia voters agreed to amend the state constitution to specifically declare it doesn’t include any right to abortion.
All abortions in Wisconsin may become illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned. In that event, a 1849 law criminalizing abortion is expected to take effect, as there are no modern laws that supersede it.
Wisconsin’s current abortion requirements are similar to those of restrictive states. It requires state-directed counseling, a 24-hour waiting period, ultrasound and parental consent and prohibits telemedicine for abortion medication.
Wyoming allows abortion up to fetal viability, per the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. State laws don’t provide any explicit legal protection for abortion, but the only current major restriction is the requirement of parental consent for minors.
In March, the state passed House Bill 92, a trigger law that would outlaw all abortions except in the case of life-threatening pregnancies. That law will go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
Source by www.cnet.com