Several US states rallied Friday to ban abortion in the hours after the Supreme Court voted to overturn the legal right of access instituted by Roe v. Wade.
Thirteen states have so-called “trigger laws” on their books written to go into effect as soon as historical precedent falls. Some of those states wasted no time making sure those bans were in effect after Friday’s ruling.
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Pregnant women considering abortion have already faced an almost complete ban in Oklahoma and a ban after about six weeks in Texas. Clinics in at least five other states — Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and West Virginia — stopped performing abortions after Friday’s decision.
Here’s a look at which states have moved to ban abortion following the court’s ruling.
States that have trigger laws — including Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, the Dakotas and Idaho — require their attorneys general to agree to enforce the bans.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry confirmed shortly after the Supreme Court decision that his state’s trigger law banning all abortions is now in effect.
Oklahoma began enlisting the trigger law Friday, and other states, including Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, said they were beginning to work on trigger bans.
Few of those laws make exceptions for rape and incest, with most saying they will only allow abortions if the mother’s life is at stake if they try to give birth.
The only abortion clinic in Mississippi, which was central to Friday’s case, continued to see patients on Friday. Men outside used a megaphone to tell the people inside that they would burn in hell. Clinic attendants wearing colorful vests used large loudspeakers to blow up Tom Petty’s I won’t back down at the protesters.
While that state also has a trigger law, the state’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks was upheld by the Supreme Court in its decision. Attorney General Lynn Fitch did not say whether she would move to issue the trigger ban.
In Texas, providers wondered which law to follow: a 1925 ban, a 2021 law that limits abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy, or a trigger law that bans the procedure completely, but only for a month or more. The confusion led them to suspend abortions while seeking legal advice.
Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton warned they could face immediate charges for performing abortions under the ban’s ban, which carries a jail term of two to five years.
Wisconsin and West Virginia, two of the states where clinics have stopped performing abortions after Friday’s decision, both have laws on the books banning abortion that date back to the 1800s.
Clinics in those states said they stopped performing abortions because of these laws, which will now be at the center of renewed political and legal battles.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a Republican, said he would not hesitate to convene the legislature in a special session if the ban needs to be clarified.
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Wisconsin Democratic government Tony Evers regretted Friday that his bid to lift his state’s ban was rejected Wednesday by the Republican-controlled legislature. However, he and his Democratic Attorney General have vowed not to enact the law.
Another outlier is Michigan, which has a law dating back to 1931 that bans abortion entirely, but is not enforced. Democratic Chief Executive Gretchen Whitmer on Friday renewed her call to the state Supreme Court to repeal that law, pledging not to enforce it if it remains in effect.
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Meanwhile, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said laws “that have not been (retained) by a court” are in full force and appear to refer to a 1951 abortion ban that predates Roe.
Governor Kay Ivey also promised to ask a judge to lift a ban on Alabama’s single, near-total ban, which passed in 2019.
The state’s three abortion clinics stopped performing the procedure because they feared health care providers would now be prosecuted under the 1951 law.
At the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, staff had to tell women in the waiting room Friday morning that they were no longer allowed to perform abortions that day. Some had even come from Texas for an appointment.
“A lot of them just started crying. Can you imagine driving 12 hours to get this care in this state and you are unable to do that?” clinic owner Dalton Johnson said. Patients were given a list of out-of-state places that still perform abortions.
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Other states with an abortion ban
States that more recently passed abortion bans that were blocked by lower courts are now in the process of repealing bans on those laws following the Supreme Court ruling.
Georgia’s Attorney General filed an application to lift a suspension of the state’s 2019 “heartbeat law,” which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually just five weeks after conception and before many women know they are pregnant.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said his state’s heartbeat law became law as of Friday.
In Arizona, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said a new 15-week abortion ban, similar to Mississippi’s, will go into effect within 90 days of the ruling. He did not say whether his state’s pre-Roe law, which bans all abortions, will come into effect.
Abortion providers across Arizona still stopped performing procedures as they tried to determine whether that 1912 law means doctors and nurses will now face jail time.
Florida also has a 15-week ban on the books passed in April. Governor Ron DeSantis said the state will defend the bill against legal challenges in state courts, a campaign likely to succeed after the Supreme Court ruling.
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More states are trying to restrict access
Just moments after the court’s decision was announced, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, said he will seek legislation to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but it’s unclear how such a bill would work in a very narrowly divided legislature.
Other conservative-minded states such as Indiana, Nebraska and Kansas have said they will restrict abortion after the Supreme Court has spoken.
Kansas voters will consider a statewide referendum in August that would abolish the legal protections against abortion enshrined by the state’s Supreme Court.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of legislation that makes abortion a protected right under state law.
At least seven of those laws have only been passed in the past two years, as the prospect of Roe being destroyed grew ever greater. Protection laws in Washington and Maryland, for example, don’t go into effect until July.
The Democratic governors of California, Washington and Oregon on Friday vowed to protect reproductive rights and help women who travel to the West Coast to have abortions following the Supreme Court decision.
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The three states are building a “West Coast offensive” to protect patients’ access to reproductive care, California government Gavin Newsom said in a video statement announcing the plans, along with the Oregon government Kate Brown and the government of Oregon. Washington, Jay Inslee.
The states have issued a joint “multi-state commitment” and say they will work together to defend patients and medical professionals who provide reproductive health care.
They also pledged to “protect from judicial and local law enforcement cooperation with out-of-state investigations, investigations and arrests” regarding abortions performed in their states.
West coast liberal states are anticipating an influx of people seeking abortions, especially as neighboring conservative states begin to ban or severely restrict the procedure.
–With Associated Press files
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