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Long before the US Supreme Court’s Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide, several conservative-dominated states had passed so-called “trigger laws” immediately banning abortion if Roe was overturned, and several others never removed their pre-Roe anti-abortion laws from the books.
Conservatives in several more states are likely to be encouraged by the Friday ruling and move to either ban or severely restrict abortion in their states. However, in the more predominantly liberal parts of the country, Democratic lawmakers have moved to strengthen abortion access in anticipation of the high court’s decision.
The Supreme Court revealed on Friday that weeks of protests and fury following the leaking of its draft decision in early May had little effect on the contents of that decision, ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that abortion is not a right protected by the US Constitution. The ruling overturned a previous decision by the high court in 1973, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized the voluntary termination of a pregnancy.
States Immediately Banning Abortion
The court’s decision has triggered special laws in 13 US states, passed years ago in anticipation of this moment.
The trigger laws in Louisiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Oklahoma immediately activated on Friday, banning abortion outright. However, Oklahoma audaciously passed a total abortion ban several weeks before the court’s decision came down. In Missouri, Arkansas, Utah, and Mississippi, the state whose abortion restriction law was challenged in the Dobbs case, the trigger law will take effect as soon as the state’s attorney general certifies it, which will be within days.
Texas, Tennessee, Wyoming, North Dakota and Idaho also have trigger laws that will end abortion within 30 days of the high court overturning Roe.
In addition, with Roe removed, nine US states that banned abortion prior to the ruling but never removed the old laws from the books will now see those laws reactivate, banning abortion once more. The states are Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, plus four others for which the bans are superfluous because they also have trigger laws.
States Likely to Ban or Severely Restrict Abortion Soon
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based sexual and reproductive health and rights think tank, several other conservative-dominated states are likely to seize the moment and move to either ban or seriously restrict abortion in the coming weeks and months.
Those states are Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska, all of which had become well-known for pushing at the boundaries of Roe before it was overturned.
The future of abortion in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Virginia is uncertain since none have explicit abortion protections and either has or are prone to having Republican-majority legislatures that may try to restrict abortion access.
In Kansas, voters will decide in an August referendum whether or not the right to an abortion will stay in the state’s constitution, as the state’s supreme court ruled in 2019. If they vote against it, a ban is likely soon after.
Several others also have very strict anti-abortion laws that will take effect, such as Georgia, Ohio, and South Carolina. All three states have passed laws banning abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy - a period previously protected from restriction by Roe - similar to Texas’ SB8 law passed last year, which aroused so much fury when the high court decided to let it take effect last September.
States Moving to Protect Abortion Access
On the other side of the coin, 16 US states where more liberal politics prevail have explicitly protected or strengthened the right to access abortion services within their borders, with some even adding funding to support “refugees” traveling there from states where it’s banned.
The states are concentrated mainly on the West Coast and Northeast. They include Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii.
The Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, has said abortion will remain legal in the state, although he recently championed the Republican-majority legislature’s 24-week abortion ban.