What you need to know
- The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 decision.
- Abortion is now illegal in Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Dakota. Several other states are expected to restrict or ban abortion within the next 30 days.
- People in states that ban abortion still have the option to travel to another state where the procedure remains legal or purchase abortion pills online.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that guarantees a woman’s right to have an abortion. Now, individual states have the power to decide whether abortion is legal. This means that abortion access across the country is now at risk.
Below, we cover which states are expected to restrict abortion, when these laws will go into effect, and how people in these states can continue to access abortion safely and legally.
Which states are expected to ban abortion?
Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws in place that are designed to take effect nearly immediately after Roe was overturned. These trigger-ban states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
Besides these 13 states, nine states have other types of laws or constitutional amendments in place that would restrict abortion. With Roe overturned, these laws, which include bans that predate Roe as well as post-Roe bans that block access to some or all abortions, can take effect. The states with these laws are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
When will states enact these laws?
The trigger bans in Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Dakota went into effect immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision. In these three states, abortion services are now illegal. The 10 other states with trigger bans will see those laws go into effect either automatically 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision or after a quick certification process by a state official.
The timeline for the nine states with other types of laws in place is less clear, but it is expected that those states will move immediately to ban abortion services.
What can we expect from states that don’t have abortion bans in place?
Besides the 22 states that have abortion bans in place, four other states—Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska—are “likely” to ban abortion as soon as possible, according to the abortion research nonprofit Guttmacher Institute.
On the other side of the coin, 16 states and Washington, D.C., have laws that protect the right to abortion, even with Roe overturned. These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
What options do people have in states where abortions are banned?
People who live in states where abortions are restricted or banned still have options if they want to end a pregnancy. One way to access abortion services is to travel to another state where the procedure remains legal and available. Time and money are the main barriers to this option. But abortion funds may be able to cover procedures and travel costs.
The other option for accessing abortions safely and legally is to purchase abortion pills online. Medication abortion offers more privacy and is easier for most people to access. Getting abortion pills through Aid Access, online pharmacies, or mail forwarding are all ways to access abortion regardless of restrictions.
What are the legal risks and how can people avoid them?
Abortion bans generally target abortion providers rather than the pregnant person, making it a felony for anyone to perform or attempt to perform an abortion. This prohibits physicians and other abortion providers from operating in the state where the ban is in effect.
But many states also have laws that could be used to criminalize pregnant people who self-manage their abortions. Such statutes include practicing medicine without a license, the fetal homicide law, and the child neglect law. This could be an issue for people who choose to access abortion pills through extralegal means, such as Aid Access, online pharmacies, or mail forwarding.
There are resources that help minimize any potential legal risk: If/When/How’s Repro Legal Helpline offers legal advice about self-managed abortion, and Digital Defense Fund offers tips on how to avoid leaving a digital footprint when accessing abortion.