Updated August 17, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. EDT|Published June 24, 2022 at 10:23 a.m. EDT
Access to abortion in roughly half the country has changed swiftly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Providers, patients, lawyers and state officials are scrambling to interpret a cascade of confusing and often conflicting antiabortion legislation, some of it written a century ago.
Thirteen states had “trigger bans” designed to take effect shortly after Roe was struck down. At least eight states banned the procedure the day the ruling was released. Several others with antiabortion laws blocked by the courts are expected to act, with lawmakers moving to activate dormant legislation. A handful of states also have pre-Roe abortion bans that could be reactivated, and others moved immediately to introduce new legislation. Judges have temporarily blocked some state bans.
Indiana became the first state to pass a near-total abortion ban after the fall of Roe. The ban goes into effect on Sept. 15.
In Kansas, voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have eliminated protections for abortion. If passed, it would have allowed the state’s conservative legislature to enact a near-total ban on abortion.
In 20 states and the District of Columbia, abortion is legal, widely available and likely to be protected.
States with abortion bans that will take effect imminently
Among this first wave, the antiabortion laws slated to take effect — the “trigger bans” — all work a little differently. Some activated immediately or as soon as a designated state official certified the court’s decision. Others were set to take effect 30 days after the June 24 decision was announced, or in a set period after the decision was certified.
Most laws do not include exceptions for rape and incest. And exceptions for the life of the mother are vague and will leave many physicians wondering if they must choose between breaking the law or breaking their oath, they told the Post.
Other states without “trigger bans” have pre-Roe abortion bans that — in the absence of Roe — have come back into effect. West Virginia, a Republican-led state, never repealed its pre-Roe abortion ban, and voters approved a constitutional amendment specifying that West Virginians do not have a right to abortion. In several states, abortion rights groups and providers have challenged these prior laws as antiquated and lacking necessary clarity.
States likely to ban abortion within weeks or months
Iowa has a pre-Roe laws banning most abortions that is currently blocked by courts.
States where abortion is legal but could be under threat
In Pennsylvania and Michigan, Democratic governors have been a firewall against antiabortion legislation proposed or passed by Republican-led legislatures. The future of abortion access will depend on the upcoming midterms: If antiabortion Republicans win those governors’ mansions, Republican lawmakers will have a clearer path to banning abortion.
Kansas is another state to watch closely. An important access point for patients traveling from antiabortion states in the southeast, Kansas will hold a statewide referendum in August on a constitutional amendment that would eliminate abortion protections established by the state Supreme Court.
In Virginia, just hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he had tasked four state lawmakers — all antiabortion Republicans — with writing legislation to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
While Florida has passed a 15-week abortion ban, which would allow over 90 percent of abortions to continue, lawmakers in the Republican-led state might try to go further in the coming months or years.
States where abortion is legal and likely to be protected
Many states have passed laws that explicitly protect the right to abortion, with several adding those protections this year in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision. Elsewhere, state courts have protected abortion access through state constitutions and past court decisions.
New Mexico and New Hampshire lack those explicit protections, but their state legislatures are not likely to move to ban the procedure.
Judging by current legislation, signals from lawmakers and interviews with experts, here’s the latest on how we expect the court’s decision to play out, state by state:
A previous version of this graphic incorrectly stated that the governors of Pennsylvania and North Carolina are up for re-election. They are term-limited.
Bonnie Berkowitz and Eugene Scott contributed to this report.
About this story
Weeks of pregnancy are calculated since the last menstrual period. Fetal viability is generally considered to be around 23 or 24 weeks, but there’s no universal consensus. Life endangerment is defined differently in different states. Medical emergencies can include cases of severely compromised health, endangerment or physical health conditions.
Sources: Post reporting; Elizabeth Nash, principal policy associate for state issues at the Guttmacher Institute; Center for Reproductive Rights. Edited by Kevin Uhrmacher and Peter Wallsten. Copy-edited by Carey L. Biron.