Where Will Abortion Be Illegal If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?
The governor of Alabama on Wednesday signed into law a far-ranging abortion ban, with exceptions only if the mother faces a “serious health risk,” and none for cases of rape or incest. Abortion rights groups are sure to challenge it, leading to a fight that the bill’s sponsor hopes will take the issue of legal abortion in America all the way up to the Supreme Court.
“My goal with this bill, and I think all of our goal, is to have Roe v. Wade turned over, and that decision be sent back to the states,” Alabama Representative Terri Collins told AL.com. She added that states could then work out further exceptions, including those for cases of rape and incest. Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortions, up to a certain point during pregnancy, legal throughout the country, regardless of circumstances.
Over the past year or so, pro-life and abortion-rights activists alike have come to believe Roe may be in danger, as President Donald Trump—who had previously promised supporters that he would pick pro-life judges—has been able to appoint dozens of federal judges, most notably Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Should Roe be overturned, many states have laws regarding abortion that would take effect in its place. Some states enacted such laws just in the past several months. A few of these laws continue to protect the right to obtain an abortion, up until the fetus is able to survive outside the womb, which is what Roe enshrines. Oregon’s law goes beyond that, to protect the right to obtain an abortion throughout pregnancy. Most state laws of this nature, however, further restrict abortion access in various ways.
Below are charts that offer an at-a-glance overview of what will happen in different states, should Roe v. Wade‘s protections disappear from American law. This information comes from the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit that researches and advocates for access to abortion and contraception.
States Where Abortion Could Be Banned
Six states have enacted bans, on most or all abortions, that would automatically go into effect if Roe is overturned. Two of those states, Arkansas and Kentucky, passed their bans just in this past year. Nine states have historical laws on the books, pre-dating Roe v. Wade, that ban abortions in most or all cases, but aren’t being enforced right now. In 2018, Guttmacher Institute analyst Elizabeth Nash told Vice that it’s not known how those laws might be revived, if Roe were to go away.
States Where Abortion Would Be Further Restricted
In recent years, restrictive anti-abortion laws put forth in several states have gotten held up in courts, which considered the laws unconstitutional. A way forward for these laws would be opened if Roe were overturned.
In addition, some states have passed laws saying they intend to ban abortion to the maximum extent allowed by federal law.