With Roe v, Wade officially overturned, it’s time for another look at abortion laws across the nation. It’s important to note that abortion hasn’t – and won’t – become illegal in America. The new Supreme Court decision allows the states to once again regulate abortion, and that means some will allow it and others won’t. Liberty Nation has examined the laws in each one of America’s 50 laboratories of democracy, and this information represents not only the most recent updates but also any likely changes looming in the near future.
It’s Legal Unless It Isn’t
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – 19 out of 50 states – explicitly protect the right to abort either in state law or their constitutions or both, and it’s unlikely any of them will change in the foreseeable future. In five states – Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Virginia – abortion is neither prohibited nor protected. That said, the way the United States works is that if something isn’t explicitly illegal, then it’s legal. That leaves 26 states, however, that either restrict abortion to some degree or very well might now that Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land. Let’s have a look at those individually.
Alabama – Outlawed
Abortion is now illegal in Alabama from the point of fertilization other than to protect the life and health of the pregnant woman.
Alaska – Protected, for Now
The right to abort in Alaska is protected, according to a state supreme court ruling from 1997, by the privacy protection in article I, Section 22 of the Alaska Constitution. However, with Roe v. Wade overturned, there will likely soon be a battle to change that. In addition to the normal elections in November, this year, Alaskans have a once-a-decade decision whether to call a constitutional convention for the state. Such an event is seen as the smoothest path to ending abortion in the state, according to activists both for and against making the change.
Arizona – Restricted or Outlawed
Arizona had a pre-Roe ban on abortion, but in 2021, a 15-week ban was signed into law. The new law grants exception when the mother’s life is in danger. Both laws can go into effect, though it’s unclear which law will actually be enforced. Amid the confusion, Arizona abortion providers ceased operations until the law is clarified.
Arkansas – Outlawed
The trigger law total ban went into effect Friday, prohibiting abortion from the point of fertilization unless necessary to save the mother’s life.
Florida – Restricted
Florida’s 2021 law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy goes into effect July 1. Abortion will be allowed when the mother’s life or “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” is at risk. Florida’s legal definition of abortion is the only one that doesn’t explicitly mention ectopic pregnancies, though it does exclude emergency deliveries to save the infant’s life and the removal of unborn children who died in the womb.
In Georgia, abortions are outlawed after six weeks under the 2019 law, though exceptions exist to save the mother, if the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile,” or in cases of rape or incest before 20 weeks. The law remains under judicial review, however, and is not yet in effect.
Idaho – To Be Outlawed Soon
Under Idaho’s 2020 trigger law, which will take effect in 30 days, all abortions outside of rape, incest, and medical emergencies are considered felonies. Planned Parenthood says it plans to continue offering abortions up until that day.
Kansas – Protected for Now
Multiple laws currently protect abortion to varying degrees across the state, but voters will decide August 2 whether to amend the state constitution to say there is no right to abortion.
Kentucky – Outlawed
All abortions outside of medical emergencies were banned as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to officials from Kentucky.
Louisiana – Outlawed
Attorney General Jeff Landry announced Friday that abortion was banned once a fetal heartbeat can be detected unless it’s to save the mother or the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile,” meaning the infant can’t survive. A ban from the point of fertilization is in the works.
Michigan – In the Air
Michigan is one of those states with a pre-Roe ban that wasn’t repealed, likely because there appeared to be no need, thanks to Roe. However, a judge ruled in May that the state would not enforce the law at least until a Planned Parenthood lawsuit is resolved. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is said to be working on abortion protection, and Attorney General Dana Nessel said on Mother’s Day that she would not enforce the “draconian law.” When the dust settles – unless the Democrats lose badly in the November elections – it’s likely abortion will be protected in Michigan.
Mississippi – Restricted and Soon to Be Outlawed
Though it’s a 15-week ban from Mississippi that triggered this ruling, there’s also a law to go into effect upon the overruling of Roe, which will ban abortion from the point of fertilization unless necessary to save the mother or if the pregnancy resulted from a rape that was reported to law enforcement. It will take effect ten days after the attorney general certifies Roe has been overturned.
Missouri – Outlawed
Governor Mike Parsons signed a proclamation Friday activating the Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act, which ends abortion entirely in Missouri unless in cases of a medical emergency.
Nebraska – To Be Outlawed Soon?
The right to abort is neither protected nor prohibited in Nebraska, but Governor Pete Ricketts has said he would push for a total ban on abortion if Roe were overturned, so stay tuned.
North Carolina – Allowed, for Now
A pre-Roe ban was explicitly amended in 1973 to bring it in line with the Supreme Court decision, and so the state prohibits any abortion beyond the 20th week of pregnancy. However, the 20-week ban was struck down by a federal judge in 2021. While the pro-abortion Democrats currently serving as governor and attorney general aren’t up for re-election in 2022, the entire state legislature is. There’s currently a Republican majority in both houses that’s almost big enough to override a governor veto, so the midterms could well determine the abortion laws in this state.
North Dakota – Heartbeat Bill to Come
North Dakota has a trigger bill that prohibits abortions beyond the detection of fetal heartbeat outside of cases of rape and incest or to save the mother. To take effect, the attorney general must send a recommendation to the Legislative Council stating that the ban is constitutional, then the Council must approve it.
Ohio – Restricted
The six-week heartbeat bill that was previously blocked is now allowed to go into effect, as the block relied entirely on Roe v. Wade.
Oklahoma – Outlawed
Oklahoma has a trigger law banning abortion from the point of conception other than to save the life of the mother.
South Dakota – Ban Blocked
A heartbeat bill that would prohibit abortions after about six weeks except in cases of medical emergency, rape, incest, or fetal anomaly was blocked by a federal court. That case, however, may no longer be valid since Roe v. Wade is no longer in effect.
Tennessee – Outlawed Soon
Abortions will be illegal from the point of fertilization, except to save the life of the pregnant woman, 30 days from the Supreme Court’s ruling. No further action in the state is required, just the month-long wait.
Texas – Restricted to Outlawed
Texas already has a heartbeat bill in effect, but there’s also a trigger that will take effect in 30 days that prohibits abortion from the point of fertilization. There will be an exception to save the life of the mother.
Utah – To Be Outlawed
A trigger law will prohibit abortion outside of cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal anomaly, and medical emergencies. Before it goes into effect, however, the legislative general counsel will have to certify it.
West Virginia – Unclear
The state constitution doesn’t allow legal protection of the right to abort, though abortions are still legal in West Virginia. There is a pre-Roe ban on the books from 1882, however, but it’s unclear whether it will go into effect or not. Governor Jim Justice said Friday that he was meeting with his legal team and the legislature to determine what to do.
Wisconsin – Contested
Wisconsin has a law from 1849 that bans abortion other than to preserve the health of the mother. Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, wants to repeal the law – but with massive Republican majorities in the legislature, he’s powerless to do so. Attorney General Josh Kaul, another Democrat, says he’ll refuse to enforce the law, but he and the governor both are up for re-election this year and face fierce competition. Enforcement of the old law might return in some parts of the state, depending on the politics in each jurisdiction.
Wyoming – To Be Outlawed
Wyoming has a trigger law that bans abortion unless necessary to save the mother or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. However, it requires certification by the governor within 30 days of the ruling.
The Short Version
Abortion is explicitly protected in 19 states. It is neither protected nor prohibited, with no indication of a potential change, in five states – and, in America, when something isn’t explicitly illegal, it’s legal.
Abortion is either banned outright, restricted, or very well may be one or the other soon in 26 states. But in every state, abortion is allowed to save the life of the mother.
In every state with a ban, abortion is explicitly defined so that it excludes the removal of an ectopic pregnancy or an unborn child that has died in the womb. Seven of the 18 explicitly restricted states allow exceptions for rape. Six of the 18 explicitly restricted states allow exceptions for incest.
Four of the 18 explicitly restricted states include exceptions or define abortion to exclude terminations where there are fatal fetal anomalies or the pregnancy is deemed “medically futile,” a term that would also include ectopic pregnancies.