Politics

What the End of Roe Means for Each State

Anti-abortion legislators have spent decades preparing for this moment.

A demonstrator holds up a clothes hanger during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
Protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, after the leak of a draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito shows a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade later this year. Reuters

According to a leaked draft of an opinion written by Justice Sam Alito, the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that protects the right to an abortion before fetal viability.

The draft, which appears to have been finished in February, may still change before it becomes an official opinion. But the court clearly has the votes. When it overturns Roe, the question of whether abortion should be legal—and under what terms—will be returned to the states.

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Anti-abortion legislators have spent decades preparing for this moment. Some states already have “trigger” bans on the books that will outlaw abortion soon after Roe is overturned. Others have left in place abortion bans that existed before Roe. These unrepealed laws will become newly applicable when Roe is gone.

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There are 18 states with abortion bans in those two categories, in which all or most abortions will likely become illegal when Roe falls: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Several other states, including many of those above, have passed new six- or eight-week abortion bans in the decades after Roe. Those laws are unconstitutional—and many were blocked by the courts—as long as Roe is in effect. But they will become fully enforceable when it is invalidated. South Carolina, Ohio, Iowa, and Georgia have passed six-week bans that could be implemented when the Supreme Court issues its final decision.

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Four other states will probably ban most or all abortions when Roe is overturned, given their Republican-controlled governments and their histories of passing abortion restrictions: Florida, Indiana, Montana, and Nebraska.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that tracks state laws on abortion, some other states that have passed restrictions on abortion in the past may not immediately move to ban it. North Carolina, for one, has a pre-Roe abortion ban on the books, but anti-abortion lawmakers do not have a veto-proof majority in the state legislature, so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could conceivably prevent it from taking effect.

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In 12 other states, laws explicitly allow abortions before fetal viability—the standard established by Roe—and whenever the health or life of a pregnant person is at risk: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Several other jurisdictions have established a legal right to abortion care, even without the protections of Roe. In Colorado, D.C., New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont, laws affirm the right to obtain an abortion throughout the duration of a pregnancy. When the Supreme Court overturns Roe, these places will become destinations for people carrying unwanted pregnancies who are denied care in their home states.

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