Roe v. Wade: Which U.S. states are banning abortion?

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 16 September 2022 08:30 GMT

Protesters gather inside the South Carolina House as members debate a new near-total ban on abortion with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest at the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina, U.S. August 30, 2022. REUTERS/Sam Wolfe

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A wave of states are imposing strict bans after the Supreme Court overturned a ruling establishing women's right to abortion

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Sept 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A slew of U.S. states have imposed sweeping abortion bans since the Supreme Court in June overturned a landmark ruling that legalized pregnancy terminations nationwide.

More than half of the country's 50 states are ultimately expected to ban or heavily restrict access to abortion after the court handed them a free rein to make their own laws when it struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

States with strict bans include Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

The wave of new restrictions leaves women in swaths of the South and Midwest without nearby access to terminations.

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.

In anticipation of the ruling, 13 states passed "trigger laws" designed to take effect if Roe was overturned.

Some states have also said the court's ruling means their pre-1973 abortion laws are back in effect.

Supporters of abortion say the bans, which have sparked a flurry of litigation, will hit women from poorer and minority communities hardest.

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

Here is a snapshot of moves to restrict access in some U.S. states:

Abortion rights demonstrators mourn outside the Senate chambers shortly before the vote to accept Senate Bill 1 which was passed by the house earlier in the day, making the Indiana legislature the first in the nation to restrict abortions, in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
ALABAMA - The state passed a law banning abortion in 2019, but it only came into force after the Supreme Court ruling. Anyone convicted of carrying out an abortion faces up to life in prison.

Exceptions are allowed where a woman's life is at risk, but not for rape. Alabama's Human Life Protection Act compares abortion to historical genocides.

ARIZONA - A 15-week abortion ban is scheduled to take effect on Sept. 24. Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also seeking to bring back enforcement of a near-total ban dating from 1901, which would take precedence over the 15-week ban.

ARKANSAS - A trigger ban came into effect in June. 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 mother's life is in danger.

FLORIDA - A law banning abortions after 15 weeks took effect in July. Abortions had previously been allowed until 24 weeks.

The new law cut access to late-term abortions for women across the country's southeast. Many had previously traveled hundreds of miles to end pregnancies in Florida because of stricter abortion laws in surrounding states.

GEORGIA - A law banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks, took effect in July. There are exceptions for medical emergencies and cases of rape or incest if a police report has been filed.

IDAHO - A trigger ban took effect in August. Anyone breaking the law can face two to five years in prison.

However, a federal judge limited the law in response to a lawsuit from President Joe Biden's administration, allowing doctors to perform abortions when a pregnant person requires emergency care, even if their condition is not life-threatening.

A separate law allows relatives of a fetus that is aborted after a heartbeat is detected to sue the doctor.

INDIANA - A ban took effect on Sept. 15, but has since been temporarily blocked while healthcare providers challenge it in court.

The legislation was passed in August, making Indiana the first state to introduce a new law banning abortion following the Supreme Court ruling. It includes exemptions where a mother's life is at risk and in cases of rape and incest.

KENTUCKY - A trigger ban went into effect in June, was subsequently blocked, and then reinstated. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Anyone performing an abortion risks up to five years in prison.

Kentucky residents will vote in November on a constitutional amendment declaring nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion.

LOUISIANA - The state's trigger ban went into effect in June, was subsequently blocked and then reinstated. Anyone providing an abortion could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000. There is an exception when a woman's life is in danger.

Confusion around the new law was highlighted after a woman who was pregnant with a baby with no skull said doctors refused her an abortion in a case that made headlines worldwide.

MISSISSIPPI – The state's trigger ban came into effect in July. Anyone who performs an abortion risks up to 10 years in prison. There are exceptions if a woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest that have been reported to police.

MISSOURI - A trigger law banned all abortion in June except in medical emergencies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Anyone performing an abortion could face five to 15 years in prison. Medical professionals could also lose their licenses.

NORTH DAKOTA - A judge has temporarily blocked the state's trigger ban - due to take effect in August - following a legal challenge by an abortion clinic which says the law violates the state constitution.

The new law would ban all abortion except to save a mother's life or in cases of rape and incest, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

OHIO - A law banning terminations once a fetal heartbeat is detected came into force in July, but a judge has since blocked enforcement pending a legal challenges by abortion providers.

The new law made headlines in July when a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio was forced to travel to Indiana to get an abortion.

OKLAHOMA – 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.

A separate trigger law that came into force in August makes it a felony to provide an abortion, with penalties of up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

SOUTH CAROLINA - A 2021 law outlawing abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected came into force briefly after the Supreme Court ruling, but has since been blocked pending a legal challenge by abortion providers.

SOUTH DAKOTA - The state's trigger ban, which took effect immediately after the Supreme Court ruling, outlaws all abortion except where a woman's life is in danger.

TENNESSEE - A trigger ban took effect in August. Exceptions are made where a woman's life is in danger or there is risk of permanent damage.

TEXAS – Anyone providing an abortion can face up to life in prison and a $100,000 fine under a trigger law that entered into force in August.

Texas had already outlawed most abortions before the Supreme Court ruling. It made headlines in 2021 when, in defiance of Roe v. Wade, it banned terminations once a fetal heartbeat could be detected. This is often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

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

UTAH - A trigger law banning abortion has been blocked pending a legal challenge by abortion provider Planned Parenthood, which says the new law violates rights under Utah's constitution.

WEST VIRGINIA - An abortion ban took effect on Sept. 16, making West Virginia the second state after Indiana to enact a new ban since the Supreme Court ruling. There are exceptions for medical emergencies and in cases of rape and incest. Abortion providers risk up to 10 years in prison.

WISCONSIN - Abortion providers have ceased services because they are unsure whether the state's pre-Roe abortion ban can be enforced, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.

WYOMING - A judge has temporarily blocked the state's trigger ban following a legal challenge. She suggested the ban appeared to violate Wyoming's constitution which protects a person's right to make their own health decisions.

The contested ban carries punishments of up to 14 years in prison for abortion providers.

This article was updated on Sept 23, 2022, to include latest developments since the court ruling.

SOURCES: Reuters, U.S. state documents, Guttmacher Institute, ACLU

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