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VERIFY Fact Sheet: Where abortion is legal, and where it is not

State laws on abortion are rapidly changing since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. VERIFY is tracking which states make it illegal.
Credit: VERIFY

Editor’s note: This story will be updated regularly to reflect the ongoing changes in each state's abortion laws.

On June 24, the Supreme Court decided in favor of a Mississippi abortion restriction in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In its appeal to the Supreme Court, Mississippi urged the court to decide on both the constitutionality of its ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and the constitutionality of federal abortion protections guaranteed by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

All six conservative justices agreed that Mississippi’s 15-week ban is constitutional, while only five of the justices — Chief Justice John Roberts being the exception — agreed to overturn Roe v. Wade. Still, that was enough to overturn the original Roe decision, and the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision, which reaffirmed those protections until viability of the fetus.

As a result, abortion’s legality has been handed over to the states. Some states are now looking to restrict abortion fully or partially, while others have cemented state protections for the medical procedure. 

THE SOURCES

WHAT WE FOUND

State laws on abortion are changing quickly following the end of Roe v. Wade. 

Thirteen states had “trigger laws” that were ready to go once federal abortion protections were lifted; trigger laws are laws that states enacted before Roe v. Wade was overturned that allow the state to enforce an abortion law within 30 days, or in some states, immediately.

Several states have full or partial abortion bans currently blocked by courts, pre-Roe abortion laws with unclear applications in the present day or a mix of other laws protecting or restricting abortion.

As of Aug. 3, 13 states have enacted bans on most or all abortions. Three more states attempted to enact their trigger laws, but they are currently blocked by the courts. Another state's trigger law will be enacted Aug. 25, unless it's blocked by the courts.

Credit: VERIFY
Laws currently blocked by court orders are not considered "active."

Which states have trigger laws in place?

There are 13 states that prepared trigger laws ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Guttmacher Institute says. 

Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Idaho and Utah all passed trigger laws prior to the Dobbs decision. 

As of Aug. 3, nine of those 13 states — South Dakota, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi — have successfully enacted their trigger law or another banning most or all abortions.

Idaho's trigger law will be enacted Aug. 25, unless the law is blocked by a court order. The state is currently facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice over the law.

State courts have blocked trigger laws in three other states. Those states are Wyoming, North Dakota and Utah.

Are there any other states that have since banned most or all abortions?

Yes, as of Aug. 3 there are five states — Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina — that have enacted bans on most or all abortions since the Dobbs decision. Alabama bans all abortions with few exceptions, while Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee ban all abortions after six weeks.

Bans on “most or all abortions” include abortion bans that begin at six weeks after conception because many pregnant people don’t know they’re pregnant by that time. Planned Parenthood says roughly 85% of abortions in Texas — prior to the state’s own restrictions on abortions after six weeks — occurred after six weeks.

All five states already passed their anti-abortion laws prior to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn federal abortion protections, but their laws were blocked by court orders. The orders were dissolved following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Tennessee's trigger law has not taken effect yet. The state's ban on abortions after six weeks is a separate law the state passed before the decision, and it will be replaced by the trigger law once that's in effect.

Are there more states with laws in place to block all abortions after six weeks?

Yes, Iowa has a law in place to block all abortions after six weeks. Its law is currently blocked by a court order issued before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Iowa presently has a law that bans all abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy which will remain in effect until the state's courts allow the more restrictive ban to take effect. The six-week ban won't become active until the courts lift the injunctions currently blocking it. 

What’s the status of other state restrictions on abortions?

There are several states with severe abortion restrictions soon to be enacted or already enacted, and several others with laws that won’t be enforced or are facing legal challenges.

VERIFY defines “abortion restrictions” in this case as laws that block access to abortions prior to fetal viability. The Guttmacher Institute says that’s generally between 24 and 28 weeks into a pregnancy. The 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision reaffirmed federal protections for abortions, but only until viability of the fetus. Many states have banned almost all abortions beyond 24 weeks or fetal viability since that decision.

A ban on all abortions after 15 weeks took effect in Florida on July 1. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, abortion providers are challenging the law.

Arizona also bans abortions after 15 weeks, however; the state also still has a pre-Roe law that bans all abortions. The law banning abortions after 15 weeks does not repeal the state’s pre-Roe ban, according to the law’s language. The pre-Roe ban is currently blocked by a court order. The 15-week ban is currently in effect.

Two states — Michigan and Wisconsin and West Virginia — also have pre-Roe abortion bans that are in legal limbo. The Kaiser Family Foundation says Michigan’s pre-Roe law is currently blocked by a court order. West Virginia's officials argued the state's 1849 pre-Roe abortion ban is in effect, but a state court has since granted a preliminary injunction on the ban to block it for the time being. Abortion providers in Wisconsin are acting as if the medical procedure is banned in the state, but have acknowledged the “legal uncertainties.”

North Carolina’s pre-Roe ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was struck down by a court in 2019. The state currently allows abortions 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Utah has enacted a law that bans abortions after 18 weeks, the Center for Reproductive Rights says. The state has a trigger law that would ban all abortions, but it is currently blocked by a court order.

There are currently seven states with active bans on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. Two of those states — Georgia and North Dakota — currently have laws banning most or all abortions blocked by court orders. Two more states, Wisconsin and West Virginia, have pre-Roe laws that ban all abortions with unclear applicability today. Indiana, Kansas and Nebraska are the other three states that ban abortions after 22 weeks.

Are there any states that specifically protect abortion rights?

Yes, there are 22 states that protect abortion rights either by law or through the state constitution. On Monday, June 27, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order to become the newest state with abortion protections. The Center for Reproductive Rights says 21 states plus Washington, D.C., have had abortion protections since before the Dobbs decision. Those states are California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota and Alaska. In Florida, Kansas and Montana, the state constitution guarantees the right to an abortion, but legislators in those states are actively trying to enact restrictions.

State courts have previously determined the state constitution protects the right to abortion in each of the three states. Florida, as mentioned above, is enacting a 15-week ban. Since the courts have yet to weigh in on the law, it’s not presently clear if the law meets the standards of the state constitution. 

On Aug. 2, 2022, Kansas voters chose to keep the state's constitutional abortion rights enshrined through a statewide referendum.

In Montana, the state legislature attempted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, but the state’s Supreme Court blocked it because of the state constitution’s abortion protections. It’s the only one of the three states in which a court has blocked the state’s attempt to enact a pre-viability abortion ban, however; the Kaiser Family Foundation says there is litigation challenging the court’s decision and interpretation of the Montana state constitution.

Officials in three states are attempting to enshrine abortion rights into their respective state’s constitution. In Vermont and California, the November ballot will include referendums on proposed amendments that would cement the states’ preexisting abortion protections into their state constitutions. In April, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if the state constitution protects the right to abortion. It is the same lawsuit that currently blocks the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban, and the state supreme court has not yet made its decision.

While most of the states that protect abortion rights do so to the point of viability, four states and the District of Columbia protect it throughout pregnancy. Those states are Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

What do the rest of the states say about abortion?

New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia are the only three states that don’t protect abortion rights by law or by constitution, but also haven’t passed laws that would restrict abortion pre-viability.

Abortion is legal in each of these states for the time being. 

Virginia’s governor has expressed a desire to pass a 15-week ban on abortion, but the state senate is controlled by Democrats who could block such a ban. Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature has attempted to pass anti-abortion laws in the past, but the state’s Democratic governor has vetoed all such legislation.

New Hampshire’s Republican governor has said abortion will remain safe and legal in the state, which also has a Republican legislature. 

More from VERIFY: No, abortion isn't illegal in all states now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

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