Where the Four States stand on abortion laws

    Since the Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling that overturned Roe vs. Wade, the country has been awash with opinion pieces and news articles about what this means for women across the country.

    The Supreme Court’s decision removed federally protected abortion in the United States, putting the decision of whether to allow abortion in the hands of the states.  In the ensuing cycle of news, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle or be taken in by misinformation about where states stand on the subject.  Below are answers to some common questions during this time of transition.

     

    “Where does my state stand on abortion?”

    The answer to that varies state by state.  Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma all have laws currently making abortion illegal.  Arkansas and Oklahoma’s laws went into effect immediately, making abortions illegal.  Several states, including Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, had so-called trigger laws in place before the Supreme Court’s decision, ready to enact anti-abortion laws once the ruling was passed.  Texas has a 30-day period in place before their ban goes into effect, while a judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked a state-wide abortion ban, leaving its future in the state contested.

    Other states across the nation that have banned abortion outright include Missouri, South Dakota, Alabama, and Kentucky.  Several states that either have trigger laws in place that will take effect soon, or have laws contested by judges, include Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina.

    Some states are either undecided about banning abortion or are putting strict time frames in place wherein abortions can still be performed.  These states include Montana, Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.

    Abortion remains legal for various time frames in Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and Massachusetts.

     

    “Are there exceptions made for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life?”
    Yes.  In most states that have banned abortion, exceptions are made if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.  Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma all have wording in their legislation supporting procedures in the case of the mother’s life being in danger.  This includes ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, potentially threatening the life of the mother.

     

    “What about cases of rape and incest?”
    Currently, none of the Four States have exceptions for rape or incest in their legislation.  While these two horrible situations make up an incredibly small percentage of abortions (about 1% for rape, and half that for incest), many lawmakers are divided on whether they should be included as exceptions to an over-all abortion ban.  Texas currently offers no such exception, though one may be coming in the following days.  Arkansas lawmakers are already debating whether to add wording to include such exceptions, while Oklahoma already makes exceptions for rape and incest, if the crimes were reported to authorities.  Louisiana currently makes no such exceptions, though Governor John Bel Edwards says he urged the State Legislature to include them.

     

    “Does this ban include other forms of contraception?”
    None of the Four States have any language in their legislation that would influence any form of birth control other than abortion.  Governor Hutchinson of Arkansas said that he does not believe contraceptives such as Plan B or IUDs will be banned.  In Louisiana, likewise, birth control and Plan B remain legal, though abortion pills were criminalized and carry a fine of up to five years in prison and fines up to $50,000, even if sent to a Louisiana resident by mail.  Even so, some pharmacies are reporting an uptick in Plan B sales as uncertainty about its continued availability causes consumers to “panic buy.”

     

    “Can I be fined or jailed if I had an abortion previously?”
    No.  The Constitution prevents states from retroactively applying laws.

     

    “What if I travel across state lines to get one?”

    The right to interstate travel prevents any state from disallowing residents to seek medical procedures elsewhere.  However, given that many of the states in the surrounding area also have abortion bans on the books, it may require hundreds of miles of travel to find a clinic.

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