ROE V. WADE

Where Are Abortions Illegal? A State-by-State Guide to Laws Across the US

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The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion, leaving the decision to determine the procedure's legality up to individual states.

The ruling by the high court's conservative majority is expected to lead to abortion bans and severe restriction in roughly half the states.

At least 13 states, mainly in the South and Midwest, passed so-called "trigger laws," legislation effectively banning abortion that was ready to be enforced in the wake of the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court opinion.

Another handful of states have near-total bans or prohibitions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. In roughly a half-dozen other states, the fight will be over dormant abortion bans that were enacted before Roe was decided in 1973 or new proposals to sharply limit when abortions can be performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

Here's a state-by-state breakdown:

States Where Abortion Is Banned in All, or Near-all Cases

Alabama: Abortions became almost entirely illegal in Alabama on Friday. A 2019 state abortion ban took effect making it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. 

Arkansas: Hours after Friday’s ruling, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed certification that Roe had been overturned, allowing the state’s “trigger ban” law to take effect immediately. That law is an outright abortion ban that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest, but does allow the procedure in cases to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency.

Missouri: A 2019 banning abortions “except in cases of medical emergency” was triggered on Friday. Under that Missouri law, performing an illegal abortion is a felony punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison, though women receiving abortions cannot be prosecuted.

Oklahoma: Abortion services were halted in Oklahoma in May after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that prohibits all abortions with few exceptions. The ban is enforced by civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecution. Oklahoma also has a “trigger law” that outlawed abortion as soon as Roe was overturned.

South Dakota: The state has a trigger law that immediately banned abortions except if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.

States Where Abortions Will Soon Be Banned or Restricted

Idaho: The Supreme Court ruling triggers a 2020 Idaho law banning all abortions except in cases of reported rape or incest, or to protect the mother’s life, set to take effect on Aug. 25, 2022. Under the law, the person performing the abortion could face a felony prosecution punishable by up to five years in prison. In cases of rape or incest, the law requires pregnant women to file a police report and provide a copy of the report to the provider prior to an abortion.

Kentucky: A 2019 “trigger law” that imposed a near-total ban on abortions, with no exception for rape or incest, went into effect before a Louisville judge halted enforcement of it a few days later. The state's only two abortion clinics are currently offering abortions while the injunction on the ban is in place as clinics challenge its constitutionality. Kentuckians are also set to vote in November on a constitutional amendment that would ensure there are no state constitutional protections for abortion.

Louisiana: Louisiana had a trigger law that immediately outlawed abortions after the Supreme Court's ruling. There is no exception for rape or incest. The only exception is if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the woman. However, since then, the ban has taken effect and been blocked multiple times in the form of rulings and temporary restraining orders. On July 21, a state district judge issued a preliminary injunction that allows clinics to continue providing abortions while a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and others continues. Eight days later, a different judge ruled that enforcement of the ban could resume while the legal fight continues, but did not indicate when he would sign the order to put it in motion. And while abortion clinics can , in a state where the Legislature is dominated by abortion opponents, there is little question that an abortion ban will eventually be in effect.

Mississippi: All abortions except for pregnancies that endanger the woman's life or those caused by rape reported to law enforcement are banned in Mississippi.

North Dakota: The state's trigger law effectively banning abortion was blocked by a judge on July 27, a day before it was set to kick in. That 2007 state law makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless necessary to prevent the pregnant woman’s death or in cases of rape or incest. Violators could be punished with a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Under current law, abortions are legal in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and after that in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the patient.

Texas: The fall of Roe put in motion a trigger law to ban virtually all abortions starting in August. In the meantime, there has been litigation over whether a 1925 state abortion ban can be enforced. Currently, a 2021 law banning abortions once fetal cardiac activity can be detected, normally around six weeks, is in effect. Abortion clinics are not offering the procedure due to the legal questions that need to be settled around with ban is in effect.

Utah: The state's trigger law banning nearly all abortions went into effect and was then was quickly paused by a court amid a legal challenge. The law has narrow exceptions for rape and incest if those crimes are reported to law enforcement, and for serious risk to the life or health of the mother, as well as confirmed lethal birth defects. Currently, a 2021 ban on abortions after 18 weeks is in effect. A court will decide whether the near-total ban is allowed under Utah’s state constitution.

Wyoming: In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, a bill signed into law in March by Republican Gov. Mark Gordon will ban abortion in nearly all instances except in cases of rape or incest or to protect the mother’s life or health, not including psychological conditions. However, in order for the restrictions to take place, the governor needs to certify the ruling and the law will go into effect in five days afterwards. It is not clear when Gordon plans to do so.

States With 'Fetal Heartbeat' Laws or Restrictions Before Viability

Florida: The state's new 15-week ban went into effect on July 1. The law makes exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape or incest. Violators could face up to five years in prison. Physicians and other medical professionals could lose their licenses and face administrative fines of $10,000 for each violation. The law is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit from abortion providers but remains in effect.

Georgia: A law passed in 2019 that bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, when fetal cardiac activity can be detected, took effect on July 20 following a ruling the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which allowed it to be enforced. The law also declares a fetus a person for purposes including income tax deductions and child support. There are exceptions in cases of rape – if a police report is filed – and incest. There are exceptions if a woman’s life or health would be threatened. However, clinics in the state are currently not offering abortions.

Ohio: A ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat became the law in Ohio hours after Friday's ruling. Enforcement of Ohio’s 2019 “heartbeat” ban had been on hold for nearly three years under a federal court injunction.

South Carolina: The state's 2019 “Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” is currently in effect and requires doctors to use an ultrasound to try to detect a fetal heartbeat if they think a pregnant woman is at least eight weeks along. If they find a heartbeat, they can only perform an abortion if the woman’s life is in danger, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. However, a Republican-dominated special House committee is working on a bill to ban all abortions unless the life of the mother is at risk. Republicans hope to win a supermajority in November to pass stricter abortion laws.

Tennessee: A 2020 "heartbeat" law banning the procedure after fetal cardiac activity is detected is now in effect in Tennessee. The laws has exceptions for when necessary to prevent death or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

States Where the Future of Abortion Access Is Unclear

Arizona: Legal uncertainty about two different abortion laws prompted clinics to stop providing the procedure after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a 15-week abortion ban in March that is set to take effect on Sept. 24. However, the state also has a pre-statehood law still on the books that would ban all abortions. While Ducey has argued that the law he signed takes precedence over the total ban, legal experts note that new bill's language doesn't specifically say that it overrules the older one. And, Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked a judge to lift a decades-old order that blocks enforcement of that abortion ban passed before Arizona was a state.

Indiana: Abortion in Indiana is legal up to about 20 weeks, with some provisions for medical emergencies. To obtain an abortion, patients must undergo an 18-hour waiting period, medical providers have to tell patients about the risks involved in abortion and must say the fetus can feel pain around 20 weeks, a claim that is disputed in the medical community. Providers must also report complications related to abortion; failure to report can result in a misdemeanor, 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Indiana Republican Senate leaders have proposed a ban on all abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and to protect a woman’s life. A vote on the ban is expected this summer.

Iowa: Iowa bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, except to save a patient’s life or prevent a substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Republican lawmakers in the state have said they aim to impose further restrictions on abortion in Iowa, but specific plans are not clear. Gov. Kim Reynolds has asked Iowa's Supreme Court to reverse a previous ruling that would have banned abortion after fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

Kansas: Under current law, abortions are legal until the 22nd week of pregnancy, and are allowed after that only to save a patient’s life or to prevent "a substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function." The state Supreme Court granted stronger protections to abortion rights in 2019, declaring that access to abortion is a "fundamental" right under the state constitution. The GOP-controlled Legislature has put a constitutional amendment on the ballot during the Aug. 2 primary, in an effort to change the state's constitution and allow lawmakers to restrict abortions.

Michigan: A dormant 1931 law bans nearly all abortions in Michigan, makes it a felony to use an instrument or administer any substance with the intent to abort a fetus unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life. It has no exceptions in cases of rape and incest. Anticipating that Roe could be overturned, Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s ban, which hasn't been enforced yet. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, also filed suit asking the state’s Supreme Court to declare the 91-year-old law unconstitutional. Abortion rights activists have taken steps to bring a constitutional amendment, affirming the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference, before voters on the November ballot.

Montana: Abortions have been legal in Montana since 1999 when the state Supreme Court ruled Montana's constitutional right to privacy guarantees a woman’s access to abortion care. But a pair of recently passed laws, one reducing the 24-week viability bar to 20 weeks and another requiring chemical abortions to be done with in-person medical supervision, are being challenged in court. Meanwhile, the Republicans who control the Montana Legislature and GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte are seeking to have the 1999 opinion overturned.

North Carolina: Abortions can be performed until fetal viability and post-viability only in a “medical emergency,” which means the woman would die or face a “serious risk” of substantial and irreversible physical impairment without the procedure. But with Roe v. Wade overturned, a 1973 North Carolina law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy could be restored if Republicans win more seats in the November midterms.

Pennsylvania: The state's current 24-week limit has been challenged repeatedly by the Republicans who control the state Legislature. Legislation to outlaw abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat — which can happen at six weeks — has passed a House committee and is awaiting a floor vote. Republican lawmakers are also advancing a proposed amendment that would declare there is no constitutional right to an abortion in Pennsylvania. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to protect access to abortion for the remainder of his time in office, through January. 

Virginia: Abortion is currently allowed up until the third trimester, but Virginia's Republican governor said Friday that he will seek legislation to ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Gov. Glenn Youngkin acknowledged that he may have to move the cutoff to 20 weeks in order to build consensus in the divided Virginia legislature, where Republicans control the House and Democrats control the Senate. Youngkin generally supports exceptions to abortion restrictions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is in danger. Still, the future of abortion access is Virginia is murky.

West Virginia: West Virginia currently bans abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy unless a patient’s life is in danger, or they face “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” Patients seeking abortions must wait 24 hours after undergoing legislatively mandated counseling designed to discourage abortions. A minor who wants an abortion must obtain parental permission. The state also bars patients from getting abortions because they believe their child will be born with a disability. But a 1848 law on the books banning abortion, which was not repealed during the years Roe was in effect, is currently being revisited in a special session. The law does not make any exceptions for rape or incest.

Wisconsin: Most abortions are allowed in Wisconsin until the 22nd week of pregnancy to save the health or life of the mother. A woman seeking an abortion must meet with a counselor and doctor before obtaining an abortion and wait at least 24 hours before having it done. Anyone under age 18 must have an adult relative over age 25 with them to obtain an abortion. But a state law passed in 1849 making an abortion a felony offense is presumed to could go into effect, and doctors have halted procedures. However, Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general argues that the law is so old that it’s unenforceable.  Still, Republicans have vowed to push for more restrictive abortion laws.

States Where Abortion Access Is Currently Protected

Alaska: The Alaska Supreme Court has interpreted the right to privacy in the state constitution as encompassing abortion rights. Recent efforts to advance a constitutional amendment through the Legislature to do away with that interpretation have been unsuccessful.

California: Abortion will remain legal in California prior to the viability of a fetus. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has vowed to make California a sanctuary for women who live in other states where abortion is outlawed or severely restricted.

Colorado: A 1967 state law legalized abortion up to 16 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion has been accessible ever since, despite repeated legislative attempts and ballot initiatives to restrict or abolish the procedure.

Connecticut: The state passed a law in 1990 giving women the legal right to abortion. It affirmed a woman’s unqualified right to an abortion “prior to viability of the fetus,” as well as later-term abortions “necessary to preserve the life and health of the pregnant woman.” The law also repealed state laws predating Roe v. Wade that had made it a felony to have an abortion or to perform one and required that patients under 16 receive counseling about their options.

Delaware: In 2017, Delaware codified the right to an abortion before a fetus is deemed “viable," defined as the point in a pregnancy when, in a physician’s “good faith medical judgment,” there is a reasonable likelihood that the fetus can survive outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures. The law also allows abortion after fetal viability if, in a doctor’s “good faith medical judgment,” abortion is necessary for the protection of the woman’s life or health, or if there is a reasonable likelihood that the fetus cannot survive without extraordinary medical measures.

District of Columbia: Abortion is legal in the District of Columbia at all stages of pregnancy, a status that was upheld in the 1971 Supreme Court case United States v. Vuitch. However, the U.S. Congress has oversight power over D.C. laws and Congress has already banned the city from using local funds to pay for abortions for women on Medicaid. However, officials in the District fear Congress could move to restrict abortion access, particularly if Republicans recapture the House of Representatives in midterm elections later this year. 

Hawaii: Hawaii legalized abortion in 1970, when it became the first state in the nation to allow the procedure at a woman’s request. The state allows abortion until a fetus would be viable outside the womb. After that, it’s legal if a patient’s life or health is in danger.

Illinois: Abortion is legal in Illinois and can only be restricted after the point of viability, when a fetus is considered able to survive outside the womb. Medical science determines viability at 24 to 26 weeks, but the Illinois law does not specify a timeframe, saying a medical professional can determine viability in each case. Abortions are also allowed after viability to protect the patient’s life or health.

Maine: In 1993, a Republican governor in Maine signed a law affirming the right to abortion before a fetus is viable. After that, abortion is only allowed if the life or health of the mother is at risk, or if the pregnancy is no longer viable.

Maryland: Maryland law prohibits restrictions on abortion prior to viability. Maryland does not have a gestational limit. After viability, clinicians make the determination, based on clinical standard of care.

Massachusetts: Abortion rights are codified into state law, allowing the procedure after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases where the child would not survive after birth, and lowering from 18 to 16 the age at which women could seek an abortion without consent from a parent or guardian.

Minnesota: Abortion is legal in Minnesota up to the point of fetal viability, around the 24th week of pregnancy. On July 11, a state judge further eased access to abortion by striking down as unconstitutional several restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period and parental notification amid a surge of out-of-state patients.

Nebraska: Abortion remains legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in Nebraska. Those seeking an abortion must receive counseling and wait 24 hours before getting an abortion. People under 19 must have parental consent to undergo an abortion.

Nevada: Nevada voters enshrined the right to abortion in the state constitution in 1990. The law says a pregnancy can be terminated during the first 24 weeks, and after that to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person. It would take another statewide vote to change or repeal the law. 

New Hampshire: The GOP-controlled Legislature enacted in January a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In June, an exemption was added for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with “abnormalities incompatible with life.” The majority leader of the New Hampshire House has said the public should not expect Republicans in the Legislature to further tighten state abortion laws.

New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy enshrine abortion rights into state law in January. The measure also guarantees the right to contraception and the right to carry a pregnancy to term. New Jersey doesn’t have any significant restrictions on abortion, such as parental consent or a mandatory waiting period.

New Mexico: Abortion is not restricted based on gestational age, and on Monday, the Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order aimed at protecting abortion providers as the state prepared for an influx of patients from neighboring states set to ban the procedure. The order protects providers from attempts by states to revoke medical licenses or seek extraditions for giving abortions to out-of-state residents.

New York: Abortions are legal within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, and allowed after 24 weeks if a fetus isn't viable or to protect the mother's life or health. Lawmakers have passed laws extending legal protections for people seeking and providing abortions in New York.

Oregon: Oregon does not have any major abortion restrictions and it is legal at all stages of pregnancy. In 2017, the state expanded health care coverage for reproductive services, including abortions, to thousands of Oregonians, regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity.

Rhode Island:  State law says Rhode Island will not restrict the right to an abortion prior to fetal viability or after if necessary to protect the health or life of the pregnant woman.

Vermont: Vermont does not have any major abortion restrictions and it is legal at all stages of pregnancy. In November, Vermont voters will cast ballots to decide if the state will amend its constitution to codify abortion right protections.

Washington: Abortion is legal until fetal viability, generally 24–26 weeks of pregnancy, and after viability only if the patient's life or health is endangered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NBC/The Associated Press
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