More than half of all US states have some kind of abortion ban law that is likely to take effect if Roe v Wade is overturned by the United States Supreme Court, according to a report.
On Monday, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Samuel Alito and published by POLITICO revealed that the court has voted to strike down the landmark 1973 ruling, which legalized abortion in the United States.
Alito wrote in part, ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.’ The George W. Bush-appointed justice goes on to say that the issue of abortion should be returned to the ‘people’s elected representatives’ to decide.
The opinion was drafted in February 2022. It’s likely that a final ruling will be made public within the next two months, reports Politico.
Republican-appointed justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett voted with Alito.
And states across the country are laying the groundwork for what comes after the more than 40-year-old ruling is nullified.
According to the pro-reproductive rights group The Guttmacher Institute, at least 22 states have laws on the books that would come into effect once the decision is officially adopted.
The organization also identified four more states that it expects to pass new abortion bans in the near future, marking a total of 26 states that appear set to ban the procedures.
There are 18 states that have near-total bans on their books, while four more have time-limit band and four others are likely to pass new bans if Roe is overturned
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 following a 58-42 vote in the Senate
The 18 states that have near-total bans on abortion already on the books are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
In addition, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina all have laws that ban abortions after the six-week mark.
At the time of writing, those six-week bans have been ruled unconstitutional.
On the same day as the Alito opinion was made public, The Washington Post reported that Republican lawmakers were plotting with pro life activists for a federal ban on abortions if Roe was overturned and the GOP won back the house.
The institute also says that four other states: Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska, are likely to pass bills when Roe v Wade is overturned.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a 15-week abortion law in April 2022. The law comes into effect in July
Florida already has a 15-week abortion ban that will go into effect in July 2022. The law does not make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest. There is an exception if the health of the patient is in danger.
In signing the law into effect, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement, ‘Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.’
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin’s bans all have pre-Roe v Wade laws that became unenforceable after the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision – that would kick into effect if the federal legal precedent established in Roe were overturned.
Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wisconsin’s laws allow for abortions if the patient’s life is in danger.
Alabama also allows for abortions in order to preserve the health of the patient.
Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas have further bans that will come into effect if the law was overturned. These were passed post-Roe v Wade.
They’re joined by Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming, in passing such laws.
The Oklahoma legislature just passed a six-week abortion ban, similar to Texas, in April 2022. Similar to the Texas law, it allows for the state to file lawsuits against those who are found to have helped someone to get an abortion after the six-week period.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said in September 2021 tweet, ‘I promised Oklahomans I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk.’
Pro-Life and pro-choice activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 2. According to Politico’s reporting, Alito’s draft is not final and could change
The states that will limit abortions based on the length of time a patient has been pregnant are Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio.
There are four states that have laws that believe that abortion is not a constitutionally protected right are Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia.
On the other side of the spectrum, 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect a person’s right to an abortion.
The Guttmacher report notes that there are over 40 million women who live in states with laws considered hostile to those seeking abortions.
Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.
The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.
Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.
So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.
Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court handed down the watershed 7-2 decision that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice to have an abortion, is protected under the 14th Amendment.
In particular, that the Due Process Clause of the the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental ‘right to privacy’ that protects a woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).
Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.
However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.
One such was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.
McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)
Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe. McCorvey became a leading, outspoken pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.
However, she performed an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.
In 2003, a she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 ruling with the U.S. district court in Dallas. The motion moved through the courts until it was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court in 2005.
McCorvey died at an assisted living home in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.