Abortion Laws State by State

Abortion is now illegal or heavily restricted in at least 11 states.

NPR‘s Becky Sullivan details “where abortions are now banned or strictly limited, and where they may be soon.” The above pictograph provides the short answer but it’s actually fairly complicated:

Abortion is now illegal or heavily restricted in at least 11 states following the Supreme Court’s historic decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade. Twelve other states have laws in place that pave the way to quickly ban or severely restrict access to them, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute, a group that favors abortion rights. Several additional states appear likely to pass new laws.

[…]

Before Dobbs, state laws banning or severely restricting abortion access fell into three broad categories: 1) “trigger bans,” which ban abortion under most circumstances and go into effect with the fall of Roe; 2) pre-Roe bans, which are old laws still on the books that could now be enforced; and 3) more recently passed laws that limit abortion to an early gestational age or ban it nearly totally. Some states had passed laws in more than one of these categories.

Thirteen states had trigger bans, laws that were written to take effect either immediately, by state official certification or after a 30-day waiting period, if Roe is overturned. Once they go into effect, these laws supersede other laws the state may have on the books, such as bans after a set number of weeks of pregnancy, said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute.

“The trigger ban applies throughout pregnancy” said Nash. “It does not have a gestational age [restriction].”

As of Friday, trigger laws are already in effect in several states, including Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

Five additional states that don’t have trigger laws did have pre-Roe laws banning abortion which could now be applied, depending on state legislative action or judicial enforcement. (Arizona’s pre-Roe ban has been on the books since before it became a state.)

Numerous states have passed laws that prohibit abortions after an early gestational age, though trigger bans in most of those states trump these. However, among states without trigger laws, four had six-week bans that could take effect, assuming legal challenges against them are dropped. Of those, Ohio’s is now in effect.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that protect the right to abortion, mostly before the point of fetal viability, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Again, though, it’s not quite that simple. As noted yesterday, for example, Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban seems to be in effect but the governor and other officials are fighting this interpretation.

Some states have laws that pre-existed the Roe ruling and have remained on the books, unenforced, ever since. Whether those laws come into force could depend on the current political leanings in those places, said Guttmacher’s Nash, in an interview with NPR last month.

In states like Michigan and Wisconsin, pre-Roe abortion bans are still technically part of state law. But the Democrats who hold the governors’ and attorneys general offices may not be interested in enforcing them, she said. Wisconsin’s attorney general has said he won’t enforce the state’s ban, however clinics that provide abortions suspended services on Friday.

In other states, like West Virginia and Arizona, Republicans may be more likely to press for enforcement or to ask a court to allow previously challenged laws to go into effect.

“I want to stress that this would happen fairly quickly. We’re not talking months and years. We’re really talking around days and weeks,” Nash said.

And, even among the states with bans that are likely to be enforced, some are much more extreme than others:

Bans on abortion after six or eight weeks gestational age narrow the window to access an abortion to a few weeks. The bans that had been passed in several states were previously held up in court, except for Texas, but could now become effective depending on court actions. Ohio’s already has.

The start of a pregnancy is measured as the first day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Pregnancy can occur during ovulation, or within two weeks of the first day of the menstrual cycle. Detecting a pregnancy is possible within about four weeks from the first day of a woman’s period. This means that in states that ban abortions after six weeks, a pregnant woman who decides to have an abortion typically has about two weeks to obtain one in that state.

While I sympathize with Justice Alito’s desire to rip the proverbial Band-Aid off this issue rather than continuing to chip away at Roe piece by piece as states test the boundaries of “reasonable basis,” the judicial struggle is far from over.

Ideally, some guardrails would be established by Congress but, obviously, that’s not happening with a 50-50 Senate. And it’s far from certain that this Court would rule that the matter is within the Constitutional purview of the federal government.

So we’re left with a mess that will take quite some time to sort out.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    We are at a point in history where if you live in, the deep south, Missouri, a Dakota, etc., you don’t get to be shocked anymore when they pass horrific laws designed to subjugate, kill or maim women, poor people, and people of color.

    These governments have shown for decades that they don’t care about voting rights, minorities, LGBTQ+ issues, poor people, etc.

    I know it’s difficult for some people to relocate for various reasons, but they have had decades to learn about the place they live and find another place to live that is more conducive to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    If they choose not to, that’s on them at this point.

    5
  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Here’s one silver lining: the political battlefield just moved away from Trump who has never given even a slight fuk about abortion. Trump is not part of this fight, he’s in a whole different war. He’ll try to get himself into it, but I don’t think it’ll work. This will push people like DeSantis and Abbott to the fore.

    Unfortunately it will also expose the weakness in the progressive notion of a natural alliance of People of Color. A lot of Black and Hispanic voters will side with the Republicans on this issue, while a lot of White suburbanites will find that owning the libs is self-harm. One thing for sure: the Democrats will have plenty of money to spend on campaigns.

    Much like the first Civil War, a lot will come down to Texas. Goal Number One should be to flip the Texas legislature and governorship. Texas is rated R+5. That’s a hill, but it’s not an insurmountable one given the influx of Californians, the aging and Covid effect on Texas demographics, and abortion.

    Maine and Minnesota are just D+1 but I suspect both states will plop with very little effort into the safe column. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are R+2, with less concern about Black evangelicals or Hispanic voters who might defect. And there is a raft of states that are R+3. Democrats need to, ahem, think outside the beltway, and remember that state legislatures and state houses are a thing. My biggest annual donation, 10K+, goes to state leg fights.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    @Tony W: I’m sorry I can’t recall who it was, but I saw an excellent column yesterday. The author pointed out that yes, as constantly claimed, rural red staters may feel coastal “elites” look down on them. But that is remote. The criticism that really hurts is that all their bright, ambitious kids leave. If not out of state, at least to the big cities.

    Forty years ago I briefly lived in Richmond IN. It was said, and probably true, that there were more Richmond HS graduates in Indianapolis than in Richmond. Abortion laws are going to motivate a lot of kids to skip Dallas or Birmingham or Fargo and keep going.

    6
  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    …Democrats will have plenty of money to spend on campaigns.

    If you have money to contribute to campaigns, don’t waste it on giving it to advocacy organizations, give it to your state Dem party, at least then more of it will make its way into campaigns, rather than covering the overhead of the advocacy org and subsidising the infighting.

    If you live in a safe Dem state, then find a purple state Dem party to contribute, and yes NH Dems would like your money.

    2
  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @gVOR08:

    I saw that piece as well and it is absolutely true.

    Also saw this, Google has informed employees that they may relocate without justification and it won’t affect their employment status.

    Working for Google in Dallas and don’t care for the politics? Well no job reason not to move.

    2
  6. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Now that SC Justice Thomas has said the scary stuff out loud in his concurrent opinion (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/06/24/contraception-supreme-court-clarence-thomas-griswold/ ) that judicial decisions re contraception and same sex marriage might also be “erroneous”, I think we can expect even more attacks on our rights to privacy. I wish I could say I was hopeful that they’re overreaching themselves, but I’m not. We are in deep trouble like we’ve never been before.

    3
  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    There’s an under-the-radar group of kidlit people who pool money and donate it to state and local party elements and likely individual candidates with the sole purpose of flipping state legislatures. My wife and I are founding donors, though we stay out of the operation.

    4
  8. Jay L Gischer says:

    I dunno. You attribute good faith to Justice Alito by describing him as wanting to “rip the bandaid off”. This is probably good practice, but I’m having a lot of trouble today attributing good faith to him.

    2
  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    Hmm, the likely thing is for Google employees to move away from unfriendly politics, but how many of them would it take to flip a smaller state such as NH?

  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    The Free State Project had the same idea, but from the libertarian side. Hasn’t worked out well for them. Though it has disrupted R politics in the state and greatly reduced the effectiveness of social conservatives. For the Free Staters, small government means staying out of peoples personal lives as well.

    But Googlers, are welcome. There’s a very large Google office in Cambridge, across the street from MIT.

    1
  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I didn’t mention NH by accident 😉

    1
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Given how closely the state is divided politically, it wouldn’t take many to make a difference.

    1
  13. John430 says:

    Red state, blue state, who cares? My curiosity tells me that 26 states have banned the death penalty. So…one cannot execute the most heinous of murderers in half the nation but it is OK to execute unborn babies in half the nation? The logic of this escapes me.

  14. Michael Reynolds says:

    @John430:
    All logic escapes you. You still think Trump won the 2020 election.

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  15. john430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You still think Trump won the 2020 election.

    No, I don’t but tell me: How are things in your USSR mind? Or in your Berchtesgaden retreat?
    You doublethink doublespeak fans amuse me.

  16. Michael Reynolds says:

    @john430:
    I’m pleased to see that you’re now admitting Joe Biden is the legitimately-elected POTUS. Progress.

    As for my, what, USSR mind? Dummy, I’m a capitalist, I’m even a low-end millionaire, sitting in my two million dollar home deciding where on my pool we could build a spa. How’s your double-wide?

    You know the acronym GIGO? Garbage In, Garbage Out? Your brain no work good because you’ve stuffed it full of lies, bigotry and stupidity. And the thing is, your brain never will work. You’ve dug the stupid hole too deep and you can’t even think about climbing out.

    2
  17. EddieInCA says:

    @John430:

    To don’t get to change the meaning of words to suit your politics.

    A baby is a baby only when it’s actually born. From the time of conception to nine weeks it’s called an embryo. From nine weeks until the moment of birth it’s a fetus. After it’s born, you can call it a baby. Before then, nope. Sorry.

    Be smarter.

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  18. grumpy realist says:

    @John430: Dearie, are you volunteering your own body as a support system for the next unwanted zygote? Or a kidney the next time someone with kidney disease needs a donor kidney? How many unwanted kids have you adopted so far?

    Because if you haven’t done any of the above, you don’t have ANY skin in this game….you’re just cosplaying at being “an ethical pro-life person”.

    Put up or shut up.

    3
  19. EddieInCA says:

    Can my response to John430 be released from moderation, please?

  20. john430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: LOL! Your two million dollar home would list for about $800K down here in Texas. They saw you coming and agreed they had a real sucker on the line.

    1
  21. Gustopher says:

    @john430: But who would want to live in Texas if they could afford not to?

    “We done got cheap land” is not the be all and end all. Pretty sure his trans kid would be less than delighted to be in the Yeehaw State.

    Texas: The only state to have seceded from two different countries to protect slavery.

    9
  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @john430:
    Oh, dude, you know how much I could save by moving to Texas? About $100,000 per year just in state income taxes. And yet, despite having an Austin connection, and despite the fact that I can live anywhere I can plug in a computer, I gladly eat that just to stay away from people like you and your squalid theocracy.

    10
  23. EddieInCA says:

    @john430:

    Michael beat me to the point. I could save more than $75K per year in taxes and fees by moving to Texas or Florida. I gladly pay the premium to live in California. Why? Because from my house, I can be in the mountains in less than an hour. I can be in the desert in less than an hour. I can be at the ocean in less than an hour. I can golf in January. I can snow ski in June. I can be in Vegas in four hours, San Diego in three, Santa Barbara in two, and Ventura in one.

    Texas? Really?

    Be better.

    9
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    @john430:
    You should think about what it means in capitalist terms that people are willing to spend a fortune rather than take a bargain. The market’s basically setting your value. Evidently the market sees you as second rate. Texas always will be second to California. You’re too lacking in natural diversity and beauty, too far from Asia, too into guns, too religious and too fucking humid. Oh, and UT ain’t exactly Stanford, now is it?

    4
  25. Jay L Gischer says:

    I have a strong connection with Texas myself. I have relatives, and many acquaintances. They like it, good for them.

    To me, California is worth it. Maybe it isn’t to you. I’m ok with that.

    I’m quite sure that my trans daughter ain’t gonna set foot in the state until the current hostility, as expressed by the governor and also other residents, to her existence changes. I’m also ok with that.

    HOWEVER, we were talking about “USSR mind” which is nonsense. Utter garbage. I am a quite successful capitalist, thank you very much. And listen very carefully now: I could not have done what I have done financially in Texas. The employment/business opportunities I have had are not available there. I couldn’t have done it in my home state, either, for that matter.

    4
  26. wr says:

    @john430: “Your two million dollar home would list for about $800K down here in Texas.”

    And about $350 in Mississippi. Funny how real estate costs more in places where people actually want to live.

    11
  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Shouldn’t the last line have been “Be Best” so that John 4whatever could understand?

    1
  28. Mimai says:

    Having seen several variants of this map over the past few days, I’m left wonder what’s the matter with Kansas?

    That question notwithstanding, Kansas has some (surprisingly) beautiful natural resources. Jerusalem Badlands State Park is stunning…in Kansas?! Flint Hills Trail is one of the longest of its kind in the US (120 miles or so) and takes you through prairie land that calms the mind. Kansas scenery is underrated.

  29. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Every native Kansan I’ve ever met has been a “different breed”. I have some friends who married into long-term families down there, and even by Wyoming standards, it’s different. I blame the tornadoes, heat, and humidity! There’s a psychological aspect to your home turf being willing to kill you during all four seasons.

    1
  30. Mimai says:

    @Jax:

    different breed

    home turf being willing to kill you

    That’s rich coming from a squirrely rascal such as yourself…

    …who hails from the Ice Box of the Nation 😉

  31. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Yeah, well, we don’t have death from the sky coming to kill us in our beds. “It’ll kill ya” cold is just par for the course for 9 months of the year. 😛

    1
  32. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Texas always will be second to California.

    Third. NY would be second.

    3
  33. Han says:

    @john430:

    Your two million dollar home would list for about $800K down here in Texas.

    You know what they say. Location, location, location…

    2
  34. john430 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And what were you saying about Tesla, HP, Oracle, Caterpillar and Chas. Schwab…???
    California is big but it’s economy and quality of life are deteriorating. I know that because I used to live in the Bay Area.
    Texas is the now 9th largest economy in the world.
    For 20 years in a row, Texas has been the #1 US exporter and exported $375B in 2021.
    Texas led the nation in high tech exports for the 9th consecutive year and exported $50B in 2021.
    It is the largest energy-producing state in the nation.
    Texas has a 90% graduation rate which is among the top 5 highest in the nation.
    Texas has more than 14 million people in the civilian labor force.
    In 2021, Texas added 694,400 jobs which makes the state a leading jobs creator.
    The last census reveals that 687,ooo Californians left for Texas.
    Gotta be a reason for that.
    My San Antonio boasts at least six major universities and is the 7th largest city in the nation.
    Climate: Hill country, open plains, forests, beaches, and even bayous. Want snow- there is always the Texas Panhandle.

  35. James Joyner says:

    @john430: I spent a number of my formative years in Texas. It’s a great state with some really nice cities. But, come on, there are exactly zero “major universities” in San Antonio. UT Austin is a major university. So is Texas A&M proper (College Station). Hell, I’ll give you Rice (in Houston). The closest San Antonio has is Trinity, which is a well-regarded regional institution but it’s not a national university.

    1
  36. grumpy realist says:

    @James Joyner: Except that now, I suspect a lot of female students are going to be choosing their universities by whether they can get an abortion nearby when necessary. Which means…the blue states.

    And if young men have any intelligence, they’ll be looking to go where the young women are going. Because if they head to colleges in the “pro-life” states, the chances of getting clamped down with 18 years of child-support payments and forced parenthood if sexytime doesn’t remain just fun ‘n games is….much, MUCH higher.

    1
  37. Matt says:

    @Gustopher: Can confirm the seasons for most of the state consist of hot and hotter (with all the humidity). An awful place to live in comparison to most of cali.