April 19, 2024


The Legal System

How abortion access differs across U.S. — and how overturning Roe v. Wade could change it – National


The leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft ruling suggesting Roe v. Wade could be overturned is putting a renewed focus on the state of abortion access across the country — and how it may change if the ruling becomes final.

While some states have abortion access protected by law, many more have some kind of restriction already in place, with some pushing to restrict the procedure even further.

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Roe v. Wade draft ruling puts U.S. abortion rights in crosshairs. Here’s what to know

The Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 allowed states to regulate but not ban abortions up to the point of fetal viability, which is around the 24th week of a pregnancy. Justices reaffirmed the decision in 1992.

If Roe v. Wade falls, over a dozen states will see abortion completely banned immediately after the court’s decision is released. That number could increase if new so-called “trigger ban” laws are passed in the coming weeks.

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Here’s a look at where abortion is allowed and restricted, and which states may ban it altogether.

Nearly every U.S. state has some kind of abortion law in place that either restricts access to abortion, or protects a woman’s right to choose the procedure.

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Yet these laws are far from equal in severity or scope. Some states with restrictions still allow abortions in the first or second trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, while others like Texas have made it all but impossible to get an abortion after six weeks — often before many women know that they are pregnant.

Texas’ law is the only one currently in force due to its unique civilian enforcement clause, which was upheld by the Supreme Court early this year.

Still other states are in an even more precarious position. Michigan, for example, has a law dating back to 1931 that bans abortion outright, but the law has not been enforced in the 50 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion constitutionally protected.

Click to play video: 'Biden says Roe v. Wade draft leak is ‘a fundamental shift in American law’ if true'

Biden says Roe v. Wade draft leak is ‘a fundamental shift in American law’ if true

Biden says Roe v. Wade draft leak is ‘a fundamental shift in American law’ if true

If Roe were to fall, the ban would likely kick back in, which the state’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is currently fighting to avoid.

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Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona and South Carolina also have unenforced abortion bans that predate Roe.

The prospect of the Supreme Court overturning Roe has led to a flurry of new abortion restrictions introduced by lawmakers since last year, some of which have recently passed.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a ban on abortions after 15 weeks into law last month. On the same day, Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature overruled Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of a nearly identical restriction. And on Tuesday, Oklahoma joined Texas in enshrining a ban after six weeks.

States that do not have explicit protections or restrictions for abortion — New Mexico, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — still allow abortions to be performed. New Mexico, for example, became the closest safe haven for many Texan women after that state passed its restrictive law last year.

Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws, which would immediately ban abortion if Roe is overturned and would presumably go into effect if the Supreme Court majority votes for the draft in late June or early July.

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Some of the laws, like the one in Idaho, explicitly state the total ban would take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court decision.

Lawmakers in five more states — Iowa, Indiana, South Carolina, Ohio and Nebraska — have introduced legislation that would enact a trigger ban if passed. Most of those states are also pushing to restrict access to abortion in the meantime, or have already done so.

Read more:

U.S. Supreme Court orders probe into Roe v. Wade draft leak

Nebraska’s proposed law was defeated last month due to tight conservative control of the state legislature, where some Republicans crossed party lines to vote to keep abortion legal.

Yet Republicans running for state office have vowed to keep the fight alive through November’s midterm elections, and lawmakers who voted against the trigger ban have faced condemnation.

Push for protection continues

Sixteen states have passed some form of legislation that ensures abortion is a protected right under state law.

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At least seven of those laws have only passed within the last two years, as the prospect of Roe being overturned intensified. Protection laws in Washington state and Maryland, for example, won’t take effect until July.

Despite passing protections, some states are trying to go even further to ensure abortion access is maintained widely.

Late Monday night, shortly after the Supreme Court draft decision leaked, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and top state lawmakers announced an amendment to the state constitution that codifies abortion as a human right.

Click to play video: 'Overturning Roe v. Wade would be ‘ultimate intrusion to a woman’s right to privacy’: Senator Smith'

Overturning Roe v. Wade would be ‘ultimate intrusion to a woman’s right to privacy’: Senator Smith

Overturning Roe v. Wade would be ‘ultimate intrusion to a woman’s right to privacy’: Senator Smith

Unlike other states that have protected abortion through legislation, Alaska’s highest court recognized a fundamental right to “reproductive choice” under the constitution in 1997, effectively blocking any attempt to restrict access. A requirement for parental consent remains unenforced.

Amid the looming prospect of Roe being overturned, eight states have introduced legislation to protect the right to abortion, including states without explicit laws like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

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While those laws have a possibility of being passed, others — like laws introduced in conservative states like Florida, Missouri and Kentucky — are less likely to become law.

— with files from the Associated Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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