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Roe v Wade: Which US states are expected to ban abortion?

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 27 June 2022 16:30 GMT

Abortion rights supporters and anti-abortion demonstrators protest outside the United States Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

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Abortion will soon be illegal in 13 states as trigger bans come into effect following the Supreme Court's ruling

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Jun 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Half of U.S. states are expected to ban abortion or impose heavy restrictions following the Supreme Court decision to overturn a landmark ruling that legalized pregnancy terminations nationwide.

The move to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling hands states a free rein to limit or ban abortions.

In anticipation of the decision, 13 states have already passed "trigger bans" which took effect automatically or will do so in the coming weeks.

They are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

The laws will leave women in large areas of the south and Midwest without nearby access to terminations.

Other states expected to introduce bans or restrictions include Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Read more: U.S. Supreme Court ruling: demand for abortion pills set to soar

Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in the United States. Opponents including conservative Christians say it is immoral, while supporters say a woman has the right to choose on matters affecting her body.

Opinion polls show a majority of Americans support abortion rights. But in recent years numerous Republican-led states have passed a slew of restrictions, some in defiance of Roe v. Wade.

Abortion is likely to remain legal in liberal states. More than a dozen have laws protecting abortion rights.

Here is a snapshot of what is happening in some U.S. states:

LOUISIANA - The state's trigger ban goes into effect immediately. Anyone who provides an abortion can face up to 10 years in prison and be fined between $10,000 and $100,000. Exceptions are made for when a person's life is in danger.

Lawmakers have also advanced a bill that would classify abortion as homicide, and grant constitutional rights to "all unborn children from the moment of fertilization".

KENTUCKY - Kentucky's trigger ban goes into effect immediately. Anybody who carries out an abortion could face up to five years in prison, according to local media. Abortion is allowed if a pregnant person's life is in danger.

SOUTH DAKOTA - A trigger ban goes into effect immediately. Exceptions are made if a pregnant person's life is in danger.

MISSISSIPPI – The state's trigger ban will come into effect after certification by the attorney general that Roe has been overturned. Anyone who performs an abortion can face up to 10 years in prison. There are exceptions in the case of rape or if the pregnant person's life is in danger.
 
The Supreme Court ruling relates to a case brought by Mississippi, which sought to revive a law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law had been blocked by a lower court but the Supreme Court upheld it. 
    
Mississippi also asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade which it has now done, paving the way for the trigger bans to take effect.
 
OKLAHOMA – A trigger ban will come into force after certification by the attorney general. Anyone providing an abortion could face two to five years in prison. There is an  exception if the pregnant person's life is in danger.   
    
In May, Oklahoma became the first state to ban abortion from the moment of fertilization. The law, passed in defiance of Roe v Wade, also allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps women terminate their pregnancies.
    
Exceptions only apply to the May law in cases of medical emergency, rape or incest.

TEXAS – A trigger ban goes into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court ruling, with exceptions if the pregnant person's life or health is in danger.

Texas made headlines in September after introducing a near-total ban on abortions in defiance of Roe v. Wade.

It is among several Republican states that have enacted "heartbeat" abortion bans which prohibit terminations once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually at six weeks, which is before the point many women know they are pregnant. There are no exemptions for rape or incest.

The law unusually grants citizens the right to sue doctors who perform terminations beyond the cut-off mark. Citizens can collect $10,000 for successful lawsuits. President Joe Biden's administration has called this a "bounty".

MISSOURI - A trigger ban will take effect after certification by the attorney general. It includes exceptions if the pregnant person's life or health is at risk.

Legal experts are separately watching a proposal aimed at preventing women from traveling out of the state to end a pregnancy or from obtaining abortion-inducing medication from a state where it is legal.

The measure would even apply to a non-resident if they had sex in the state leading to conception.

Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh has said Friday's ruling does not let states bar residents from traveling to another state to obtain an abortion.

TENNESSEE - A trigger ban will go into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court ruling. Exceptions are made where the pregnant person's life is in danger or there is a serious risk of permanent damage to health.

ARKANSAS - A trigger ban will take effect after certification by the attorney general. Anyone who performs an abortion faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.  There is an exception if the pregnant person's life is in danger.

In March 2021, Arkansas banned all abortions except in medical emergencies. But the ban has remained unenforced pending a legal challenge.

IDAHO - A trigger ban goes into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court ruling. Anyone who provides an abortion can face two to five years in prison. Exceptions are made in cases of rape or incest or where a person's life is in danger. 

Earlier this year, Republican Governor Brad Little signed a six-week abortion ban modeled on the Texan law. It allows relatives of the fetus to sue providers who perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected. The law, due to take effect in April, was blocked by the state Supreme Court pending legal review.

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito ahead of the decision on Roe v. Wade. May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WYOMING - A trigger ban will take effect after certification by the governor, carrying punishments of up to 14 years in prison for abortion providers. Exceptions are made where the pregnant person's life or health is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.

NORTH DAKOTA - A trigger ban will go into force following a procedural step. Exceptions are made where the pregnant person's life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest.

UTAH - A trigger ban will take effect following a procedural step. Exceptions are made where the pregnant person's life or health is in danger, if the fetus has a lethal abnormality, or in cases of rape or incest.

ARIZONA - Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill in March outlawing abortion after 15 weeks except in medical emergencies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The new law will likely take effect by October if not challenged in court. 

FLORIDA - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law in April banning abortions after 15 weeks. They are currently allowed until 24 weeks.
 
The new law, which takes effect on July 1, will cut access to late-term abortions for women across the country's southeast. Many travel hundreds of miles to end pregnancies in Florida because of stricter abortion laws in surrounding states.     
    
SOUTH CAROLINA - Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed a law in 2021 outlawing abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law is on hold amid a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood.
 
SOURCES: Reuters, Guttmacher Institute, Center for American Progress, NARAL Pro-Choice America, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Kaiser Family Foundation.
 
This article was updated on June 27, 2022, to include additional states where bans and restrictions are likely.
 
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