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Here are the states poised to gut abortion rights if Roe v. Wade is overturned

There are 13 states with trigger laws in place, which are designed to take effect automatically or by quick state action if the 1973 ruling on Roe v. Wade no longer applies.
Women’s March ATX rally, Saturday, Oct., 2, 2021, at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas. An expected decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming year to severely restrict abortion rights or overturn Roe v. Wade entirely is setting off a renewed round of abortion battles in state legislatures. Stephen Spillman/ AP

Story at a glance

  • A draft of the Supreme Court’s opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked and appeared to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

  • That would eliminate the federal right to an abortion. 

  • Multiple states have laws already in place that are ready to take effect quickly if Roe v. Wade is completely or partially overruled. 

After a draft of a majority opinion by the Supreme Court was leaked Monday evening by Politico showing the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the 1973 case Roe v. Wade — which protects the federal right to an abortion — multiple states around the country have trigger laws in place that will immediately ban abortions upon Roe being overruled.  

The 67-page opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, concludes that Roe and the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey have no grounding in the Constitution. Alito even said he viewed Roe as “egregiously wrong.” 

The court’s final published opinion is expected within the next two months, and if it stays consistent with Alito’s draft, 22 states would be certain to attempt to ban abortion as quickly as possible. 

According to abortion rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute, within those 22 states, 13 states have trigger laws already in place, designed to take effect automatically or by quick state action if Roe no longer applies. These states are: 

  1. Arkansas 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a law in February 2019 that would automatically ban abortion if the Supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade. No exceptions would be allowed in cases of rape or incest. 

  1. Idaho  

The state has an existing fetal heartbeat law that makes it a felony for any provider to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, which happens at or around five or six weeks after conception. The law does make exceptions for medical emergencies, rape or incest. 

  1. Kentucky 

The state’s legislature passed a law in 2019 that would ban abortions and make performing one a felony if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Only limited exceptions are provided, such as to prevent death or serious injury of the mother. 

  1. Louisiana 

A trigger law in this state would immediately ban performing an abortion on any pregnant women or prescribing her abortion medication. Exceptions are allowed to prevent the death of pregnant women.  

  1. Mississippi 

This is the state at the center of the Supreme Court’s current decision, in which the state is arguing its 15-week abortion ban. If the Supreme Court were to strike down Roe, Mississippi law states the state attorney general must confirm the decision within 10 days and abortion will be prohibited. Exceptions will be allowed for cases of rape or if an abortion would save the mother’s life. 

  1. Missouri 

Under the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” all abortions would be banned except in cases of medical emergency. The act is written so it will only become effective upon the Supreme Court overruling, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade.  

  1. North Dakota 

Abortions would be banned here if Roe were overturned with exceptions available if the procedure would save the pregnant mother’s life.  

  1. Oklahoma 

The state has already enacted a law that eliminates virtually all abortion services. There’s an exception only if an abortion will save the life of the mother. Oklahoma also passed a law enabling the state to enforce a total ban on abortions if Roe is overturned.  

  1. South Dakota 

The state has passed a law that would ban abortions if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Exceptions are allowed only in cases of life endangerment or severely compromised health of the pregnant mother. 

  1. Tennessee 

In 2019, the state passed the “Human Life Protection Act” which makes performing an abortion a felony. It stands to take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade.  

  1. Texas 

The state’s “Human Life Protection Act of 2021” would make performing an abortion a felony and would only allow the procedure in life-threatening emergencies for the pregnant mother. It’s scheduled to take effect 30 days after the Supreme Court overrules the landmark case. 

  1. Utah 

In 2020, the state passed a law that prohibits women from receiving an abortion with limited exceptions for rape, incest and life-threatening emergencies to the pregnant mother. It’s contingent on whether the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.  

  1. Wyoming 

The state passed a law in March this year that provides if the Supreme Court issues a decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the state’s current abortion laws will be repealed and replaced within 30 days with an all-out ban on all abortions. Exceptions will be possible for life-threatening emergencies to the pregnant mother or in cases of incest or sexual assault. 

Guttmacher also predicts that Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska will likely ban abortion upon Roe v. Wade being overturned. The states have recently enacted or introduced laws that limit access to abortion “that show they are likely to ban abortion as soon as possible without federal protections in place.” 

The institute also notes that the Supreme Court does not need to completely overturn Roe v. Wade for states to start activating trigger laws. If the court weakens or undermines that 1973 case, that will serve enough momentum to start implementing bans. 


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