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The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 reversal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion at the federal level, has set off a political earthquake that is pitting advocates and opponents against each other ahead of the November midterms.
Conservatives have hailed the decision as a decisive victory for the pro-life movement, while progressives have argued the move sets the clock back on women’s rights. Meanwhile, states have been scrambling to adjust their laws, and approximately half of the states are expected to enact abortion bans — though exactly when those bans go into effect varies.
FILE – Demonstrators gather at the federal courthouse in Austin, Texas, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, on June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
In states controlled by Democrats, abortion access will largely be unchanged and, in some cases, be easier to access. However, in Republican-controlled states, the situation is mixed. Some states had trigger bans that went into effect the day the court’s decision was made, while others are postponing major decisions until the next legislative session.
Here is an overview of how Republican-controlled states are responding to their newfound authority over abortion laws:
Alabama made abortions almost entirely illegal the day of the court’s decision last month. The three remaining clinics in the state stopped providing abortions that morning under fear of prosecution under a 1951 state law.
A 2019 state abortion ban took effect, making it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, left, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said it is now a felony to provide an abortion in Alabama beyond the one exception allowed in the 2019 law, which is for the sake of the mother’s health.
Despite Republicans currently holding a majority of seats in the legislature, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe has not immediately affected abortion rights in Alaska, due to a State Supreme Court decision that has interpreted the right to privacy in the state constitution as encompassing abortion rights.
Arizona lawmakers passed a 15-week abortion ban in March that is set to take effect on Sept. 24. Restrictions include bans on abortions because of gender and a 2021 law that makes it a felony for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy because the fetus has a survivable genetic abnormality.
The state also has a pre-statehood law on the books that would ban all abortions, though it has not been enforced since Roe was decided. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said the March abortion ban takes precedence over the total ban that remains on the books.
Abortion providers across the state have stopped all procedures out of fear that doctors, nurses and other providers could be prosecuted under the pre-Roe ban.
Before the Supreme Court’s ruling, Arkansas already had a law banning most abortions 20 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. Hours after the Supreme Court ruling, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed a certification that Roe had been overturned. The certification allowed the state’s “trigger ban” to take effect immediately, which altered the state law to include a single exception — to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency.
People rally in support of abortion rights at the state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., in May 2019. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
In the lead-up to the court’s decision, Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape or incest.
The 15-week ban took effect in Florida on July 1. It was briefly on hold July 5 due to a judge’s order in a case brought by abortion providers who argued it “violates the privacy provision of the Florida Constitution.” But the state’s appeal automatically put the restrictions into effect.
Georgia lawmakers passed a law in 2019 by one vote that would ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and contains language designating a fetus as a person for certain state-law purposes, such as income tax deductions and child support. A federal judge struck it down in 2020, saying it was unconstitutional. The state appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which on July 20 overruled the lower court’s decision blocking enforcement of the law and allowing the measure to take effect immediately.
The change comes in the middle of tightly contested races in Georgia for governor and U.S. Senate. Some Republican lawmakers and candidates want Georgia to go further and ban abortion entirely, but Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is unlikely to call a special session before this November’s general election.
Earlier this year, Idaho state lawmakers passed a ban prohibiting abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and authorizing family members to sue medical providers for performing an abortion. That law is on hold following a challenge by Planned Parenthood, and the Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case next month.
Abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
The Supreme Court’s decision triggers a 2020 Idaho law banning all abortions except in cases of reported rape or incest, or to protect the mother’s life, to take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court ruling. In cases of rape or incest, pregnant women would be required to file a police report and provide a copy of the report to the provider before the procedure. If the Idaho Supreme Court upholds the state’s abortion ban, a medical provider who performs an abortion in Idaho could face a lawsuit and criminal charges.
Abortion in Indiana is legal up to about 20 weeks, with some provisions for medical emergencies. After the court’s decision, a federal judge lifted an injunction that had blocked a 2019 law banning a second-trimester abortion procedure.
Indiana’s Republican-controlled legislature is expected to further tighten abortion laws during a special legislative session — but details on additional restrictions remain unclear at this time.
A week before the Supreme Court overturned Roe, Iowa’s high court — which has a conservative majority — overturned a 2018 decision declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution. The decision allowed a state law requiring a 24-hour waiting period to go into effect immediately, but that requirement is being challenged in district court.
For now, nothing has changed with respect to the Supreme Court’s decision. Republican state lawmakers are trying to get an amendment on the ballot in 2024 that would declare the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion but, with Roe overturned, Iowa lawmakers can ban abortion without completing that lengthy process.
Kansas does not ban most abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancy, and nothing immediately changed following the court’s June 24 decision. Republican state lawmakers have put on the Aug. 2 ballot an amendment that would declare the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion, allowing lawmakers to restrict abortion as much as the federal courts will allow.
If voters approve the amendment, the legislature would still have to approve the new restrictions, and lawmakers are out of session until January 2023. They can call themselves in to a special session with a two-thirds majority, 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.
Kentucky banned all abortion services in April after the state’s Republican-controlled legislature imposed new restrictions and reporting requirements on the state’s two abortion clinics. Abortions were allowed to resume after a federal judge on June 30 temporarily blocked key parts of the law, including a provision banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Abortion-rights activists with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights chant after marching to the home of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on June 18, 2022, in Falls Church, Virginia. (Getty Images )
The measure contains a narrow exception allowing abortion to prevent the death or permanent injury of the mother. Kentuckians will vote this November on a proposed amendment declaring that the state constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion.
A statewide abortion ban has taken effect twice and been blocked twice in Louisiana since the court’s June 24 decision. Judge Donald Johnson, a state district judge in Baton Rouge, issued a preliminary injunction effectively allowing the state’s three remaining abortion clinics to continue providing the procedure.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and others continues. With Johnson’s order, attorneys on both sides of the debate have 30 days to develop plans for a trial on whether the law should be permanently blocked.
Anticipating that the court would overturn Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit challenging a dormant 1931 law that bans nearly all abortions with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. A state judge suspended the law in May, saying it violates the state’s constitution. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, hailed the decision.
An injunction granted in the Planned Parenthood case ensures that abortion does not immediately become illegal. Whitmer — a firm supporter of abortion rights — also filed suit, asking the state’s Supreme Court to declare the 91-year-old law unconstitutional. It has yet to act on the governor’s request.
Reproductive Freedom for All, an abortion rights group, has turned in more than 753,000 signatures of the needed 425,000 to put a vote to enshrine abortion access in the state constitution on the November ballot. The Board of State Canvassers must validate the signatures before the proposed amendment can appear on the ballot. The measure would become law if voters approved it.
Mississippi’s efforts to enact a state law in 2018 banning most abortions after 15 weeks is the basis for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that ultimately led to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
People march to protest the Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case on June 24, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
The state’s sole abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, closed its doors on July 6 and said it was relocating to New Mexico. Earlier this month, the clinic ended its challenge of a law that bans most abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned. A judge rejected the clinic’s request to block the law from taking effect. As of July 7, abortions are allowed in cases of rape or if the woman’s life is in danger. Any person who knowingly performs or attempts to induce an abortion, except the pregnant woman, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
The state attorney general was expected to respond to a request from the clinic’s lawyers asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to block the new ban on most abortions.
The day Roe was overturned, a 2019 state law banning abortions “except in cases of a medical emergency” kicked in. Under the law, physicians who perform an illegal abortion face felony charges with five to 15 years in prison, though women receiving abortions cannot be prosecuted.
A woman holds a sign celebrating the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe vs. Wade. (Fox News Digital)
Montana did not enact a ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Before the June 24 decision, a series of legal challenges to Montana’s law reducing the time women can receive an abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks was working its way through the courts.
The state has asked the Montana Supreme Court to vacate an injunction blocking enforcement of the law and overturn a 1999 Montana Supreme Court opinion that found the state’s constitutional right to privacy guarantees a woman’s access to abortion care.
Montanans will vote in November on whether they support a state law to require abortion providers to give life-saving treatment to a fetus that is born alive after a botched abortion.
Nebraska’s circumstances are unique, given its officially nonpartisan legislature with a Republican majority. A ruling that lets states set their own abortion laws will trigger an immediate push by Nebraska conservatives to ban the procedure, but it’s not clear whether they could do it this year. Unlike other conservative states, Nebraska doesn’t have a trigger law that automatically outlaws abortion.
Gov. Pete Ricketts and other Republican leaders have said they’ll seek a special legislative session, but it’s not clear whether they have enough votes to pass anything. If a proposed abortion ban fails during a special session, or if no special session is called, the issue will likely become a factor in the November election.
In anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision, New Hampshire Democrats, outnumbered by Republicans, tried unsuccessfully to enshrine abortion rights into state law and the state constitution.
An anti-abortion demonstrator protests in front of the Supreme Court building, on the day of hearing arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1, 2021. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
However, nothing changed immediately after the ruling. The legislature won’t return until this fall, when there will be a one-day session to take up vetoed bills, and it would take a two-thirds majority vote to introduce new legislation then.
The majority leader of the New Hampshire House has said the public should not expect Republicans in the legislature to further tighten state abortion laws. But anti-abortion lawmakers who have filed bills in the past are expected to try again.
One the day of the court’s decision, Republican state lawmakers asked state Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat and abortion rights supporter, to demand an injunction on a 20-week abortion be lifted — otherwise, they would intervene.
Stein hasn’t committed to going to court, telling lawmakers on July 1 that a “thorough legal review” of the matter may take weeks to complete.
Separately, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order on July 6 that shields out-of-state abortion patients from extradition and prohibits agencies under his control from assisting other states’ prosecutions of abortion patients who travel to North Carolina for the procedure.
Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision on June 24, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican General Assembly leaders didn’t consider additional abortion restrictions in their legislative session that ended July 1. But the party is expected to intensify its efforts in this year’s elections to gain the five additional seats it needs for veto-proof margins
Prior to the Court’s decision, a North Dakota law banning abortions once a heartbeat is detected never took effect because the state’s lone abortion clinic successfully challenged it in court. One failed Republican proposal would have charged abortion providers with murder with a maximum sentence of life in prison.
North Dakota has a trigger law that will shut down the Red River Women’s Clinic, the state’s sole abortion clinic, in Fargo after 30 days, though the clinic filed a lawsuit in early July seeking to ban the law from taking effect. That 2007 state law makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless necessary to prevent the pregnant woman’s death or in cases of rape or incest. Violators could be punished with a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
The owner and operator of the clinic has said she would explore all legal options to ensure abortion services are available in the state.
Hours after the court’s ruling, a ban on most abortions at the first detectable heartbeat became the law in Ohio.
Enforcement of Ohio’s 2019 “heartbeat” ban had been on hold for nearly three years under a federal court injunction. The state attorney general, Republican Dave Yost, asked for that to be dissolved because of the high court’s ruling, and U.S. Judge Michael Barrett agreed hours later.
Two trigger bills are on hold in the legislature, but a key legislative leader has said he anticipates needing to write new legislation that more carefully reflects the actual ruling.
The court’s ruling has had little effect in Oklahoma, given the state’s yearslong efforts to rein in abortion access. The Sooner State has a trigger law that outlawed abortion as soon as Roe was overturned.
FILE – Governor Kevin Stitt, R-Okla., speaks during a roundtable at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, abortion providers who had been operating in the state 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.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, a federal judge allowed South Carolina to enforce a 2021 law that requires doctors to use an ultrasound to try to detect heartbeats if they think a pregnant woman is at least eight weeks pregnant. Under that law, which is currently tied up in a federal lawsuit, doctors can only perform an abortion if the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
Planned Parenthood said it would continue to perform abortions in South Carolina under the parameters of the new law. The group has also sued over the new restrictions, arguing they violate state constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection.
Republican leaders had agreed they could return for a special session to take up more restrictive abortion bills if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They have yet to announce a special session.
After the court’s ruling, South Dakota enacted a law immediately banning abortions except if the woman’s life was at risk.
FILE – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem initially called for a special session to craft new laws in light of the decision but later reversed course. Some lawmakers, meanwhile, have floated proposals that would make it more difficult for women to seek an abortion out of state. Abortion rights advocates are preparing for a similar referendum on abortion access. The ban on abortions could eventually be challenged through a citizen-initiated ballot measure.
Four days after the Supreme Court ruling, a federal appeals court let a 2020 law banning most abortions when a heartbeat can be detected — at about six weeks — to go into effect.
Republican Attorney General Herbert Slatery III said a trigger law will go into effect in mid-August that bans all abortions in Tennessee, except when necessary to prevent death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” He has said the trigger law would take precedence over the 2020 law.
Texas was reining in abortion access months ahead of Roe v. Wade being overturned. In September, the state passed a law banning most abortions after about six weeks, with no exceptions.
Pro-choice activists approach the Chevy Chase, Maryland, home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to hold a demonstration. (Photo by Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)
The court’s decision on Roe set in motion the Lone Star State’s trigger law that will ban virtually all abortions in the weeks ahead. Clinics have tried to continue serving patients in the meantime, but a new round of court battles over whether a dormant 1925 abortion ban can be enforced has already stopped most doctors from performing abortions.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Utah moved to implement two new restrictions: a law outlawing nearly all abortions, and a ban on abortions after 18 weeks that was passed a year earlier.
The trigger law does have narrow exceptions for rape and incest if those crimes are reported to law enforcement, and for serious risk to the life or health of the mother, as well as confirmed lethal birth defects. The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah subsequently filed a lawsuit in state court, arguing it violated the Utah Constitution. Meanwhile, legal challenges blocking the 18-week law based on Roe v. Wade were dismissed. That law took effect while courts weighed state constitutional challenges to its trigger law.
Earlier this month, a judge put Utah’s trigger law banning most abortions on hold until Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit is decided. If it takes effect, performing an abortion would be a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
West Virginia’s single abortion clinic halted services immediately after the court’s ruling for fear of being prosecuted under a 19th-century state law banning abortion that makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
But last week, the clinic changed course and began making appointments for abortions again as litigation over the old law continued. Under that law, providers who perform abortions can face felony charges and three to 10 years in prison, unless the abortion is conducted to save a patient’s life. In 2018, West Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment to declare patients do not have the right to abortion.
For now, it remains unclear how the state law banning abortion will be enforced. Republican leaders and legislative attorneys have said they are reviewing each statute on the books “to determine how they apply” in light of Roe being overturned. No lawmakers have commented on whether they intend to outlaw medication-induced abortion.
After Roe was overturned, it was presumed that an 1849 state law making an abortion a felony offense could go into effect, and doctors have halted procedures.
However, Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has argued that the law is so old that it’s unenforceable. On June 28, Kaul filed a lawsuit against Republican leaders of the legislature, arguing that the 1849 abortion ban conflicts with a 1985 law that prohibits abortion either after 20 weeks or at the point of fetal viability. His lawsuit says the 1985 law should take precedence.
The Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin, Dec. 14, 2020. (REUTERS/Daniel Acker)
Republican lawmakers are expected to attempt to clarify the 19th–century law during next year’s legislative session to ensure a ban is in place, even as that issue is being argued in the courts.
Wyoming passed a law in 2021 requiring physicians to provide lifesaving care to any aborted fetus born alive. The law only provides exceptions in cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother’s life or health.
A planned women’s health clinic in Casper that would have been the only one offering abortions in the state was on track to open in mid-June, but an arson fire on May 25 delayed those plans by around six months. The clinic’s founder, Julie Burkhart, said she still plans to open the clinic and will continue to seek legal means to keep abortion legal in Wyoming.
Meanwhile, Republican Attorney General Bridget Hill notified the governor that the state’s trigger abortion ban “would be fully authorized” under the Supreme Court’s decision, though it remains unclear when the governor will enact the ban.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.