While liberal states like New York are promising to receive abortion-seeking patients from other states with open arms if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Texas lawmakers are pushing for a bill to ban residents looking to end their pregnancy in another state from doing so.
Though it’s unsurprising the 6-3 conservative majority on the high court would look to overturn Roe, a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion last week revealed a majority of justices are in favor of overturning the 1973 landmark abortion case sent shockwaves across the nation and spurred local lawmakers into action.
Here’s a look at what states have been doing in anticipation of abortion rights being tossed back to the states:
Texas already bans abortions at six weeks, bypassing Roe by allowing private residents, not the state, to sue those who aid and abet anyone in receiving the procedure. But it also has a ‘trigger law’ on the books that would make performing an abortion a felony within 30 days if Roe was overturned.
Unlike the current law which is civilly enforced, the trigger law comes with traditional criminal penalties. Pregnant women would still be exempt from charges, but doctors could face up to life in prison.
Leaders and members of the state legislature say they are refocusing their attention on investing in foster care and adoption services and strengthening the social safety net for mothers and children.
But some of the more conservative members have begun to discuss ways to make sure Texans aren’t just traveling to another state to have the procedure.
‘I think I can speak for myself and other colleagues that align with my policy beliefs — we’ll continue to do our best to make abortion not just outlawed, but unthinkable,’ said Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, according to the Texas Tribune.
Cain said he is interested in going after abortion funds that raise money to help pregnant women with travel costs to get the procedure in another state.
In March, he sent cease-and-desist letters to such organizations based on a pre-Roe statute that made it a crime to ‘furnish the means for procuring an abortion.’ Roe made these abortion statutes unconstitutional.
Pro-Life speakers and a pro-choice demonstrator (C) confront each other outside the State House during a Pro-Choice Mother’s Day Rally in Boston, Massachusetts on May 8
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the State House during a Pro-Choice Mother’s Day Rally in Boston, Massachusetts on May 8
Texas also already bans obtaining a medication abortion by mail, but the ban is difficult to enforce since it does not go after the woman – it only makes it a felony to provide the pills. If the provider is in a state or country where mailing abortion pills is legal, the law is difficult to enforce.
For better enforcement, University of Texas at Austin reproductive law expert Elizabeth Sepper predicts anti-abortion lawmakers could go after pregnant women next.
‘I think it’s entirely possible and perhaps likely that the next step for anti-abortion legislators will be to come after medication abortion and impose criminal penalties not only for dispensing medication abortion, but for taking medication abortion,’ Sepper told Texas Public Radio last week.’But we’re not there yet,’ she added.
In New York, where abortion is legal up until birth if the patient’s vaguely defined ‘life or health’ are at risk, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a letter to Congress that the state expects an ’11 to 13% increase in out-of-state patients traveling to New York for abortion care,’ if Roe is overturned.
Hochul said the state is preparing to accommodate out-of-state abortion seekers, and Congress must repeal the Hyde amendment and provide federal money to help New York do so.
New York is one of 15 states that covers abortions with state Medicaid dollars and the state has already passed a law that requires health insurance providers to cover the procedure without cost sharing, Hochul noted.
But lawmakers have been working to expand access and support even further.
On Monday, New York attorney general Letitia James announced legislation that would allow taxpayer money through the state’s health department to be distributed to abortion providers and cover costs for the uninsured. The state senate proposed a bill that would allow taxpayers to contribute to abortion funds on their tax returns and another one that would require maternity care coverage to include abortions.
In anticipation of the potential Supreme Court decision, the California state legislature proposed a set of 13 bills in January that would make the Golden State a ‘sanctuary’ for abortion seekers.
And since the leaked opinion California assemblywoman and chair of its women’s caucus Cristina Garcia said lawmakers are aggressively trying to move up the timeline of the bills’ passing.
Garcia told ABC News the women’s caucus is identifying which of the bills are most urgent and expects them to become law by July 1.
Among the package of bills is a move to protect the privacy of abortion providers and seekers so they can’t face consequences in the patient’s home state. Another would set up a website where out-of-state abortion seekers could go to request help with travel costs, child care and other needs while coming to California for an abortion.
A Demonstrator dressed as a handmaid from The Handmaid’s Tale claims she wants ‘bodily autonomy’ for Mother’s Day
Demonstrators dressed as handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale, walk to the Capitol on May 8
Another bill which has already passed eliminates co-pays, deductibles and any cost-sharing requirements for abortion procedures for all state-licensed health care plans.
After the leak was reported last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Twitter that his state was proposing an amendment to ‘enshrine’ the right to an abortion in its constitution.
Less than two days after the leaked draft decision, Republicans in the Louisiana state house advanced a bill that made abortion a homicide from ‘the moment of fertilization’ and allowed prosecutors to go after both pregnant women and providers.
Anti-abortion lawmakers thus far have generally avoided prosecuting pregnant abortion seekers, but Louisiana lawmakers have taken it a step further.
The bill passed 7-2 out of a House committee last week and has a good chance of making it to the governor’s desk.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a Texas-style abortion ban last Tuesday, allowing private citizens to take legal action against abortion providers after 6 weeks, or whenever cardiac activity is detected in a fetus.
Similar to Texas, the bill entitles those who bring a suit forward to up to $10,000 in damages.
Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban is at the heart of Jackson Women’s Health Organization v. Mississippi, the case that could prompt the overturning of Roe. Mississippi argues that Roe was wrongly decided, and it justices agree the 15-week ban will be upheld in addition to abortion rights being tossed back to the states.
Florida has a similar 15-week ban that will take effect beginning July 1, replacing the previous 24-week ban.
States where abortion rights will be restricted
Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming all have ‘trigger laws’ on the books that would automatically outlaw abortion if Roe were overturned.
A total of 26 states are expected to implement an abortion ban if Roe is overturned. Twenty-three of those states have amendments, pre-Roe rules or trigger laws on the books that would effectively ban abortion quickly if Roe was overturned. Three others are considered hostile territory for abortion rights.
In Arkansas, abortion will be immediately outlawed after Roe is overturned so long as the state attorney general certifies the decision.
‘It will be my honor and a privilege of my lifetime to do just that,’ Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said after the leaked opinion.
In Missouri, the state attorney general said he would be prepared ‘immediately’ to put out the opinion to put the state’s trigger law into effect.
Pro-life demonstrators showed up outside the home of conservative Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday to show support for his draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, which was leaked last Monday
Protesters also showed up outside the D.C. suburb homes of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh (pictured on Saturday) and Chief Justice John Roberts
Protesters in DC hold signs arguing in favor of Roe v. Wade
Pro-choice protesters descended on the homes of justices on Saturday after the conservative members’ addresses were doxxed online by activist group with the moniker Ruth Sent Us. Pictured: Demonstrators rally outside Kavanaugh’s home in Chevy Chase, Maryland on Saturday, May 7, 2022
South Dakota already has a trigger law in place, but Gov. Kristi Noem promised to call for a special legislative session to implement further restrictions if Roe is overturned.
Idaho, in addition to its trigger law, is pursuing Texas-style legislation that allows civil lawsuits against abortion providers.
In Ohio, state legislators are considering two trigger ban rules they could enact before Roe is overturned. Gov. Mike DeWine said he would have the state’s attorney general seek to revive a 2019 law that banned abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, around six weeks. The law was blocked by the courts shortly after DeWine signed it.
‘I’m asking him to immediately go into court and ask the federal court to lift the stay that is on the bill that I have already signed,’ DeWine announced right after he won his primary race.
States where abortion access will be expanded
At least eight states – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, along with Washington, DC – are expected to expand abortion rights without Roe, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Twenty states in total have legal protections for abortion at the state level.
States where abortion rights are up in the air
In New Hampshire, New Mexico and Virginia, abortion is accessible but there are no legal protections in place. Abortion rights will depend on the political winds in these swing states.