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Here's how some U.S. states are moving to restrict abortions

Here's how some U.S. states are moving to restrict abortions after the country's Supreme Court ended constitutional protections for the right to the procedure.

Supreme Court ends decades-old constitutional protections

Pro-choice and anti-abortion signs are seen outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday, the day the top court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended constitutional protections for abortion in the U.S. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

The decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Here's how some states are moving to restrict abortions following the ruling:

Mississippi

The case before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, centred on a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks.

Only about 100 patients per year get abortions after 15 weeks at Mississippi's lone abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Diane Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic, speaks at a news conference in Jackson, Miss., after the ruling. The clinic is the only facility that performs abortions in Mississippi and had challenged the state's abortion law, prompting the state to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. (Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press)

The facility does not provide abortions after 16 weeks.

At least 13 states, including Mississippi, have so-called trigger laws that ban or severely limit abortion and are set to come into effect virtually as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned.


Texas

The first sign that the U.S. Supreme Court might be receptive to wiping away the constitutional right to abortion came in late summer of 2021, when the justices divided 5-4 in allowing Texas to enforce a ban on the procedure at roughly six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant.

That dispute turned on the unique structure of the law, including its enforcement by private citizens, via civil lawsuits, rather than by state officials, and how it can be challenged in court. Then in December, after hearing additional arguments over whether to block the Texas law known as S.B. 8, the court again declined to do so, also by a 5-4 vote.

After Friday's ruling, Texas abortion providers wondered which law they had to follow — a 1925 ban, the 2021 law or a trigger law that bans the procedure outright but wouldn't take effect for a month or more. The confusion led them to suspend abortions while they seek legal advice.

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Missouri

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he was acting immediately to enforce a state law banning abortion except in "cases of medical emergency."

The 2019 Missouri law included a trigger provision making effective upon notification by the attorney general that the U.S. Supreme Court had overruled Roe v. Wade in whole or in part.

"With this attorney general opinion, my office has effectively ended abortion in Missouri," said Schmitt, a Republican who is also running for U.S. Senate.

Alabama

The state's three abortion clinics stopped performing the procedure for fear providers would now be prosecuted under a law dating to 1951.

At the Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville, the staff had to tell women in the waiting room Friday morning that they could not perform any more abortions. Some had come from as far away as Texas for an appointment.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who in 2019 signed into law a near-total ban on abortion, said the state will ask a judge to lift an injunction and clear the way for the state to enforce the ban, which makes it a felony to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy with no exemption for pregnancies caused by rape and incest.

West Virginia

The only abortion clinic in West Virginia is no longer performing abortions as of Friday.

Katie Quinonez, executive director of Women's Health Center of West Virginia, said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that allows states to ban abortion is making an immediate, hard-felt impact.

The state has an abortion ban law on the books that makes providing abortions a felony carrying three to 10 years of prison time. It's unclear how the state will proceed on enforcement.

Women's Health Center of West Virginia executive director Katie Quinonez is seen in Charleston on Feb 25. (Chris Jackson/The Associated Press)

"Roe has never been enough, but in states like West Virginia, it was the only thing protecting abortion access," she said.

She said West Virginians will be forced to travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres away from home to access health care and that marginalized communities will be hurt the most.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Republican Gov. Jim Justice applauded the high court's decision Friday. Justice said he "will not hesitate" to call the legislature into a special session if the state abortion law needs to be clarified.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood immediately halted all scheduled abortions at its clinics in Madison and Milwaukee following the high court's ruling.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it is presumed that a state law passed in 1849 making an abortion a felony offence could go into effect.

However, Wisconsin's Democratic attorney general argues that the law is so old that it's unenforceable.

A Planned Parenthood is seen in Milwaukee, Wis., in March 2017. (Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel/The Associated Press)

Louisiana

Louisiana has a trigger law that immediately outlaws abortions. There is no exception for rape or incest. The only exception is if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the woman.

Earlier this week, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed a bill updating various aspects of the law and subjecting abortion providers to up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000 US.

Edwards's office said the bill allows the use of emergency contraception "for victims of rape and incest prior to when a pregnancy can be clinically diagnosed."

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South Dakota

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed a bill in March requiring women to make three in-person doctor's visits to complete a medication abortion.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect in response to a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood.

In May, a federal appeals court put the case on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case involving federal abortion rights.

North Dakota

North Dakota has a trigger law that will shut down the state's sole abortion clinic in Fargo after 30 days.

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 US fine.

The owner and operator of the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo said she would explore all legal options to ensure abortion services are available in North Dakota. Should that fail, clinic leader Tammi Kromenaker plans to move across the river to Moorhead, Minn., where abortion has not been outlawed. Planned Parenthood says it can provide abortions in Moorhead until Kromenaker gets up and running.

Tammi Kromenaker, director of the Red River Women's Clinic, is seen in Fargo, N.D., in July 2013. (Dan Koeck/Reuters)

Arizona

Abortion providers across Arizona halted procedures Friday as they try to determine whether a law dating to pre-statehood days means their personnel could face prison time.

At issue is a law that dates to at least 1901, 11 years before Arizona became a state. It subjects anyone who provides abortion care to a possible two to five years in prison. Republicans in the state Senate believe the pre-Roe law is enforceable.

Another law, signed in March by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, bans the procedure after 15 weeks. It takes effect in about 90 days.

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Ohio

A ban on most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat became the law in Ohio on Friday.

Enforcement of Ohio's 2019 "heartbeat" ban had been on hold for nearly three years under a federal court injunction.

The state attorney general, Republican Dave Yost, asked for that to be dissolved because of the Supreme Court's ruling, and a federal judge agreed hours later.

Ant-abortion demonstrators celebrate outside a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. (Courtney Hergesheimer/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

Florida

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in April signed a 15-week abortion ban, which allows exceptions for medical emergencies or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

The exceptions do not allow for abortion past 15 weeks in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.

The ban is due to take effect on July 1 if it is not blocked in court.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds up a 15-week abortion ban law after signing it in Kissimmee, Fla., on April 14. (John Raoux/The Associated Press)

Idaho

Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a six-week abortion ban in March that allows family members of the fetus to sue providers who perform abortions past that point, similar to a Texas law enacted last year.

The Idaho law was due to take effect in April, but has been blocked by the state Supreme Court.

A hearing is set for August.

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Oklahoma

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, this spring signed three laws restricting or banning abortion.

The law signed on May 26 banned all abortions except in cases of medical emergency, rape or incest. It took effect immediately and shut down the state's abortion services. It relies on private citizens to sue providers and any person who "aids or abets" abortions to be enforced.

Earlier in May, Stitt signed a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. It relies on the same lawsuit enforcement mechanism and also took effect immediately.

A bill signed in April bans abortion except in medical emergencies and penalizes providers who violate the law with up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years in prison. The law is due to take effect in August.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt speaks after signing an abortion bill in Oklahoma City on April 12. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)

Kentucky

Abortion services in Kentucky immediately became illegal under a "trigger law" enacted in 2019. The measure contains a narrow exception allowing abortion to prevent the death or permanent injury of a pregnant woman.

Kentuckians will be able to vote this November on a proposed amendment declaring there is no right to an abortion in the state constitution.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear supports abortion rights, but Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority in the Kentucky legislature.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health on Friday notified the state's two abortion providers that its ban on the procedure had taken effect under a law triggered by the Supreme Court ruling. The law bans abortions except to protect the life of the mother in a medical emergency.

The notices advise the facilities that performing an abortion in violation of the law is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 US.

Planned Parenthood said it would no longer be able to offer abortions at its Little Rock facility. Before the ban took effect, Planned Parenthood offered medication abortion but not surgical abortions at the facility. Another clinic, Little Rock Family Planning Services, offered surgical abortions at its facility.

Georgia

Georgia lawmakers in 2019 passed a law by one vote that would ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, when fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

The measure is unlike other "heartbeat" bills in that it also contains language designating a fetus as a person for certain state-law purposes such as income tax deductions and child support.

The measure is on hold before the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the 11th Circuit is likely to allow the six-week ban to take effect relatively quickly, having already heard oral arguments in the case, although there could be fresh legal challenges.

North Carolina

A 1973 North Carolina law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy is currently unenforceable after federal judges struck it down as unconstitutional in 2019 and 2021.

Instead, abortions can be performed until fetal viability. A state law approved in 2015 provides for post-viability abortions 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.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the 20-week ban could be restored. State Attorney General Josh Stein is a Democrat and abortion rights supporter. Republican lawmakers could try to force action themselves.

South Carolina

In 2021, South Carolina passed the "Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act" that 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.

The law is currently tied up in a federal lawsuit, but now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it will likely go into effect.

Tennessee

Thirty days after the Supreme Court's decision, a so-called trigger law will go into effect that bans all abortions in Tennessee except when necessary to prevent death or "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

The 2020 law, which aimed to ban most abortions when the fetal heartbeat can be detected at about six weeks, had been previous blocked by a federal court.

Doctors could be charged with a felony for providing an abortion under this law.

Utah

Utah's abortion restrictions went into effect after the legislature's general counsel certified that the state's 2020 trigger law met legal requirements.

The rules contain 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.

Legislative leaders said they had no plans to expand restrictions on abortion until they better understood the effects of Utah's law.

State Sen. Dan McKay, the Republican who sponsored the trigger law, said it would be wrong for Utah women to pursue abortions in neighbouring states, but he had no immediate plans to press for limits on their ability to travel there.

With files from Reuters

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