RED ALERT: What we can expect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade
For Immediate Release: June 13, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that recognized the federal constitutional right to abortion, in less than a month. This will set the stage for abortion access to dramatically decrease across the country. Should Roe fall, 26 states could quickly move to ban abortion, leaving more than 36 million women, plus other people who can become pregnant, including trans men and gender nonconforming people, without access to abortion care.
The 26 states most likely to move to ban abortion are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Of those 26, 13 have trigger bans that could go into effect immediately or within days of a Supreme Court decision overruling or undermining Roe. Two states, Texas and Oklahoma, already have unconstitutional, citizen-enforced abortion bans in effect.
Already, in many of these states, abortion is already restricted so severely, it’s a right in name only. People are forced to navigate stigmatizing and medically unnecessary restrictions in addition to financial and logistical barriers. If access in their state is eliminated — as it has already been in Oklahoma and largely in Texas — people will be forced to find a way to get an abortion in another state, seek care outside the health care system, or else carry a pregnancy against their will.
Should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn or dismantle Roe, it will elicit a rush of activity in states hostile to abortion that already have a variety of — sometimes overlapping and contradictory — abortion restrictions and bans on the books. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is dedicated to fighting to protect abortion access in all 50 states. Here is the current state of play for abortion access:
Ten states have laws in active litigation that ban abortion at a specific gestational age. While they are currently blocked by federal courts, they could potentially take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned:
- Alabama: total abortion ban (2019)
- Arkansas: 18-week abortion ban (2019); total abortion ban (2021)
- Georgia: 6-week abortion ban (2019)
- Kentucky: 6-week abortion ban (2019); 15-week abortion ban (2022)
- Mississippi: 15-week abortion ban (2018); 6-week abortion ban (2019)
- Missouri: “nesting" abortions bans at 8, 14, 18 and 20 weeks (2019)
- Ohio: 6-week abortion ban (2019)
- South Carolina: 6-week abortion ban (2021)
- Tennessee: “nesting” abortion bans starting at 6 weeks (2020)
- Utah: 18-week abortion ban (2019)
Two states have unconstitutional abortion bans with citizen-enforced bounty-hunter provisions currently in effect and facing active legal challenges:
- Oklahoma: 6-week abortion ban (2022); total abortion ban (2022)
- Texas: 6-week abortion ban (2021)
Nine states have pre-Roe abortion bans at risk of being enforced if Roe falls: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Note that Michigan’s ban, challenged by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, was temporarily blocked by a state court last month and cannot currently be enforced if Roe is overturned.
Thirteen states have total abortion bans that could be triggered immediately or within days of a Supreme Court decision overturning or undermining Roe. Here’s a breakdown of how they work:
- Arkansas (2019): Arkansas’s trigger ban could be enforced as soon as the state attorney general certifies that Roe has been overturned. The state could then penalize abortion providers with 10 years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.
- Idaho (2020): Idaho’s trigger ban could be enforced 30 days after a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. There are exceptions allowing abortions to prevent the death of the pregnant person and in cases of rape or incest. Under the ban, providing an abortion would be a felony punishable by two to five years in prison.
- Kentucky (2019): Kentucky’s trigger ban becomes effective when Roe is reversed “in whole or in part.” The ban would make providing an abortion a class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison.
- Louisiana (2006): Louisiana’s trigger ban also becomes effective when “a U.S. Supreme Court decision reverses, in whole or in part, Roe v. Wade.” Violation would result in one to 10 years in prison or hard labor, and a fine of $10,000 to $100,000.
- Mississippi (2007): Mississippi’s trigger ban could be enforced 10 days after the Mississippi attorney general determines that Roe was overturned and publishes this determination in the secretary of state's administrative bulletin. Violation would result in imprisonment for one to 10 years.
- Missouri (2019): Missouri’s trigger ban could become effective essentially immediately. To take effect, the revisor of statutes in the state must receive either an opinion by the Missouri attorney general, a proclamation by the Missouri governor, or the adoption of a concurrent resolution by the Missouri general assembly that Roe has been overturned, in whole or in part. The ban makes providing an abortion a class B felony, with violators subject to suspension or revocation of their professional license by their professional licensing board.
- North Dakota (2007): North Dakota’s trigger ban could be enforced quickly, but not immediately, after Roe is overturned. To take effect, the North Dakota attorney general must recommend to the legislative council that the trigger law would be upheld as constitutional. The legislative council then must approve this recommendation. The ban makes providing an abortion a class C felony, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.
- Oklahoma (2021, amended in 2022): Oklahoma’s trigger ban states that after the Oklahoma attorney general certifies that the Supreme Court overturned Roe and Casey, in whole or in part, numerous statutes relating to abortion would be repealed and the state may enforce the pre-Roe ban. It makes providing an abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison.
- South Dakota (2005): South Dakota’s trigger ban becomes effective “on the date that the states are recognized by the United States Supreme Court to have the authority to prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.” The ban makes providing an abortion a class 6 felony, subject to two years imprisonment, a fine of $4,000, or both.
- Tennessee (2019): Tennessee’s trigger ban could be enforced no sooner than 30 days following a decision overturning Roe in whole or in part. The ban would make providing an abortion a class C felony, which is punishable with three to 15 years in prison, as well as fines of up to $10,000.
- Texas (2021) Texas’s trigger ban could be enforced no sooner than 30 days following a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. The ban makes providing an abortion a first or second degree felony, subject to a loss of licensure and a civil fine of no less than $100,000.
- Utah (2020): Utah’s trigger ban could be enforced quickly after Roe is overturned. For the law to take effect, the legislative general counsel of Utah must certify to the legislative management committee that “a court of binding authority” has held that states can ban abortion at any point in pregnancy. The ban would allow abortion only if the pregnant person is at risk of death or permanent impairment; in cases of rape or incest, but only if rape or incest has been reported to law enforcement; or after certain narrowly termed fetal diagnoses. It makes providing an abortion a second degree felony, punishable by one to 15 years in prison and a criminal fine.
- Wyoming (2022): Wyoming’s trigger ban could be enforced quickly after a Supreme Court decision. Within 30 days, the Wyoming attorney general must provide a report to the governor and the joint judiciary interim committee, and the governor may then certify to the secretary of state that the Supreme Court has issued a decision that triggers the ban. The law, which bans abortion completely except in the cases of sexual assault, incest, and risk to the life of the pregnant person, would be effective five days after the governor’s certification.
This year alone, politicians have introduced nearly 550 abortion restrictions in 42 states, according to the Guttmacher Institute. State legislatures have enacted at least 42 abortion restrictions in 11 states, including 15-week abortion bans in Florida, Arizona, and Kentucky; six-week, citizen-enforced bans in Idaho and Oklahoma; a trigger ban in Wyoming; and two total bans in Oklahoma — one of which took effect immediately upon the governor’s signature in April. The Supreme Court’s decision will open the floodgates for even more dangerous legislation.
For more information, visit the Red Alert Report by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.