Updated May 26, 2022 - Health
Axios Explains: Abortion

Red states race to enact new abortion restrictions

Status of abortion bans in the U.S.
Data: Axios Research; Map: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Supreme Court is likely to clear the way for new anti-abortion laws in just a few months — but red states aren't waiting.

The big picture: Conservative legislatures are passing a raft of controversial new laws, many of which push the envelope further than the courts have ever allowed. But with the court poised to significantly weaken Roe v. Wade, if not overturn it altogether, red states appear confident that these new measures will stand.

State of play: As of May 5, 86 bills to restrict or outright ban the procedure have been introduced in 31 states this year alone, according to Guttmacher Institute data. Eight bans have been enacted in 2022, with two being blocked by lower courts.

  • "Out of all the proposed bans, anti-abortion policymakers have been focusing primarily on three types" per Guttmacher. Those are bans on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, "Texas-style" bans at around 6 weeks or less into a pregnancy, enforced via private lawsuits of abortion providers and patients, and "trigger" bans that will go into effect if the Supreme Court were to overturn or weaken Roe.
  • Wyoming is the latest state to enact a "trigger" law. There are currently 13 states with such laws.

Driving the news: Axios is tracking abortion bans as they move through state legislatures and will update this story regularly.

Abortion bans that have been enacted

Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed a "Texas-style" bill that bans nearly all abortions starting at fertilization and went into effect immediately. It will be enforced by private civil action for a minimum $10,000 reward.

  • Stitt also signed into law another "Texas-style" bill that bans abortions after effectively six weeks of pregnancy, also enforced via private lawsuits. The law is already in effect.
  • Earlier in the spring, the governor also signed a bill making it a felony to provide an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000. It has no rape or incest exceptions. The law is set to go into effect in November.

Florida: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law a 15-week abortion ban which has no exceptions for rape or incest. It only allows for abortions to be performed past the 15 weeks if there's a medical emergency or a "fatal fetal abnormality."

  • The law is set to take effect on July 1.

Arizona: Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed into law a legislation prohibiting abortions past the 15th week of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

  • The law will go into effect in late June.

Texas: An unprecedented law has been in effect since September banning abortions in the state after effectively six weeks of pregnancy. The law encourages private citizens to sue anyone suspected of helping a person receive an abortion for a reward of at least $10,000.

  • No court, including the U.S. Supreme Court, has blocked the law.

Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in 2018 signed into law a 15-week abortion ban.

  • The law states that it will go into effect if Mississippi's 15-week ban, which is being evaluated by the Supreme Court and is currently blocked, takes effect.

Abortion bans that have been blocked

Kentucky: The U.S. Western Kentucky District Court temporarily blocked a bill banning abortions in Kentucky after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law also contains other abortion regulations, including forcing patients to report their abortions and file "birth-death" certificates.

  • The law went in effect after the state legislature overrode a veto from Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
  • Back in 2019, a federal court temporarily blocked a six-week ban shortly after it was signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R), and the case remains open.

Idaho: The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked a bill modeled after Texas' six-week ban that would outlaw abortions in Idaho after around six weeks of pregnancy. The law was set to take effect on April 22, but is now stopped while legal challenges proceed.

  • Gov. Brad Little (R) had signed it into law in March, making it at the time the first state to enact a law modeled after Texas' ban.

Mississippi: Mississippi has a 15-week abortion ban that has been blocked by courts since 2018. The legislation is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, and a ruling on this case — expected as soon as June — could result in the end of Roe v. Wade.

South Carolina: A federal appeals court in February temporarily blocked the state's six-week ban while the legal proceedings on its constitutionality continue.

  • Gov. Henry McMaster signed the bill into law in February 2021. The same day it was enacted, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

Georgia: A federal court of appeals in 2021 temporarily blocked a six-week ban from taking effect, and a case challenging the law is currently on hold pending a Supreme Court decision on Mississippi's 15-week ban.

Missouri: Gov. Mike Parson (R) in 2019 signed into law a bill making abortions illegal after eight weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood sued the state over the law, which was temporarily blocked by a district court that year, and a federal appeals court in 2021 upheld the ruling.

Abortion bans that have passed at least one chamber in the state legislature

West Virginia: Lawmakers in the state House passed a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

  • The state Senate did not vote on the bill within the required timeframe, so the legislation is dead. However, it can be reintroduced in the next legislative cycle, according to a spokesperson for the West Virginia legislature.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note several bans that were previously blocked in Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Go deeper