- Fifteen states have now banned abortion in all circumstances after preparing trigger laws which would come into effect in the event of Roe v. Wade being overturned
- Three others – including Democrat-led Michigan and Wisconsin – have automatically re-enacted previous bans superseded by the 1983 Roe ruling
- Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers are both trying to undo their states’ respective bans in the courts, but they remain in place for now
- Four other states are set to challenge bans on proposed abortion laws deemed unconstitutional, while four are proposing their own bans or restrictions
- Roe was overturned Friday in a 6-3 ruling. It had long been anticipated, thanks to Donald Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices, bringing the court’s conservative majority to six
- In May, a draft opinion ending Roe was leaked, sparking nationwide protests which are set to continue
Abortion was automatically outlawed in 18 US states as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned, thanks to specially-devised ‘trigger laws’ and historic bans that were automatically reenacted after Friday’s ruling.
Thirteen states prepared trigger laws which would automatically outlaw terminations in the event of a ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, which was widely-anticipated.
They are: Arkansas; Idaho; Kentucky; Louisiana; Mississippi; Missouri; North Dakota; Oklahoma; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah and Wyoming.
Five other states have also now banned terminations, after historic laws superseded by the 1973 Roe ruling automatically came back into place.
Among those five are two Democrat-governed states – Michigan and Wisconsin.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers have both sought to overturn those bans in the court. But they remain in place for now.
Other states with newly-re-enacted historic bans are Alabama, Arizona and West Virginia.
Eight other states are also set to enact new anti-abortion laws. Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina all attempted to ban abortion after the six week mark.
Those laws were branded unconstitutional, but will likely be revisited now Roe has ended. And Florida, Indiana, Montana as well as Nebraska are all working on plans to ban or restrict terminations.
More than half of all US states have some kind of abortion ban law that will likely now take effect following Friday’s news that Roe v Wade has been overturned by the United States Supreme Court.
Last month, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Samuel Alito and published by POLITICO revealed that the court voted to strike down the landmark 1973 ruling, which legalized abortion in the United States.
Alito wrote in part, ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.’ The George W. Bush-appointed justice goes on to say that the issue of abortion should be returned to the ‘people’s elected representatives’ to decide.
The opinion was drafted in February 2022.
Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito.
And states across the country have been laying the groundwork for what comes after the more than 40-year-old ruling is nullified.
According to the pro-reproductive rights group The Guttmacher Institute, at least 22 states have laws on the books that would come into effect once the decision is officially adopted.
The organization also identified four more states that it expects to pass new abortion bans in the near future, marking a total of 26 states that appear set to ban the procedures
The 18 states that have near-total bans on abortion already on the books are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In addition, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina all have laws that ban abortions after the six-week mark.
At the time of writing, those six-week bans have been ruled unconstitutional.
On the same day as the Alito opinion was made public, The Washington Post reported that Republican lawmakers were plotting with pro life activists for a federal ban on abortions if Roe was overturned and the GOP won back the house.
The institute also says that four other states: Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska, are likely to pass bills when Roe v Wade is overturned.
Florida already has a 15-week abortion ban that will go into effect in July 2022. The law does not make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest. There is an exception if the health of the patient is in danger.
In signing the law into effect, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement, ‘Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.’
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin’s bans all have pre-Roe v Wade laws that became unenforceable after the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision – that would kick into effect if the federal legal precedent established in Roe were overturned.
Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin’s laws allow for abortions if the patient’s life is in danger.
Alabama also allows for abortions in order to preserve the health of the patient.
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas have further bans that will come into effect if the law was overturned. These were passed post-Roe v Wade.
They’re joined by Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, in passing such laws.
The Oklahoma legislature just passed a six-week abortion ban, similar to Texas, in April 2022. Similar to the Texas law, it allows for the state to file lawsuits against those who are found to have helped someone to get an abortion after the six-week period.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said in September 2021 tweet, ‘I promised Oklahomans I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk.’
The states that will limit abortions based on the length of time a patient has been pregnant are Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio.
There are four states that have laws that believe that abortion is not a constitutionally protected right are Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia.
On the other side of the spectrum, 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect a person’s right to an abortion.
The Guttmacher report notes that there are over 40 million women who live in states with laws considered hostile to those seeking abortions.
Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America
Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 – ten years after the Supreme Court decision
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.
The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.
Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.
So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.
Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court handed down the watershed 7-2 decision that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice to have an abortion, is protected under the 14th Amendment.
In particular, that the Due Process Clause of the the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental ‘right to privacy’ that protects a woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).
Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.
McCorvey became a born again Christian in 1995 and started advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017
However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.
One such was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)
Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe.
McCorvey became a leading, outspoken pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.
However, she performed an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.
In 2003, a she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 ruling with the U.S. district court in Dallas.
The motion moved through the courts until it was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court in 2005.
McCorvey died at an assisted living home in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.
Shelley Lynn Thornton (Baby Roe)
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) gave birth to Shelley Lynn Thornton in Dallas in 1970 – a year before the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case was filed. Shelley was the single mother’s third pregnancy. She gave her up for adoption the day after giving birth, then continued fighting for the right to abortion afterwards.
Shelley’s identity became public last year. She waived her right to anonymity, speaking out in multiple interviews about the landmark case.
She says that Norma used her for ‘publicity’, only trying to make contact with her when she was a teenager and for the wrong reasons.
‘It became apparent to me really quickly that the only reason why she wanted to reach out to me and find me was because she wanted to use me for publicity. She didn’t deserve to meet me. She never did anything in her life to get that privilege back.
‘She never expressed genuine feeling for me or genuine remorse for doing the things that she did, saying the things that she did over and over and over again,’ Shelley said last year.
Shelley has refused to say whether or not she agrees with abortion, for fear of weaponized by either side of the debate.
‘A lot of people didn’t know I existed. It doesn’t revolve around me, I wasn’t the one who created this law. I’m not the one who created this movement. I had nothing to do with it. I was just a little itty-bitty thing and, you know, circumstances prevailed.
‘My whole thinking is that, “oh God everybody is going to hate me because everyone is going to blame me for abortion being legal.’