Anti-abortion protest. Photo: SAUL LOEB/Getty Images
The most restrictive abortion laws in generations are being challenged in courts across America's red states, setting up what could be a precedent-smashing Supreme Court challenge to the abortion status quo.
Driving the news: Mississippi's fetal heartbeat law was struck down on Friday, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 15-week abortion ban was unconstitutional, per AP. The Center for Reproductive Rights, who challenged the ban in court, called the ruling "the first of the recent bans to reach a federal appellate court."
States that have passed abortion restrictions:
- Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion. It was temporarily blocked by a judge in late October.
- Louisiana passed a fetal heartbeat law in May. (Effective if a judge lifts the block in the Mississippi suit.)
- Ohio passed a fetal heartbeat law. It was temporarily blocked by a judge in early July.
- Kentucky passed a fetal heartbeat law. It's been temporarily blocked by a judge.
- Georgia passed a fetal heartbeat law. It's been temporarily blocked by a judge.
- Utah voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. (Effective as of May 14).
- Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. This decision has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
- Missouri signed into law a ban on abortions at 8 weeks of pregnancy. This decision has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge.
States considering abortion restrictions:
- Pennsylvania Republicans introduced a heartbeat bill, but Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he would veto it.
- Florida is considering 2 bills — one limiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and the second is fetal heartbeat bill.
- South Carolina has removed exceptions for rape and incest to advance a fetal heartbeat bill.
- Maryland failed to pass a fetal heartbeat bill.
- Minnesota is considering a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks.
- West Virginia introduced a fetal heartbeat bill earlier this year.
- Tennessee has passed a bill that would ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
States enacting abortion protections:
- Illinois' Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law on in early June to protect the state's abortion rights if Roe v. Wade were overturned.
- New York passed a bill in January that protects the "fundamental right" to abortions.
- Virginia expanded in May the range of medical professionals who can perform abortion procedures.
- The Kansas Court ruled in late April that the state constitution protects a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.
- The Illinois House passed a bill in May further protecting abortions by removing some of the barriers for abortions and penalties for doctors, positioning Illinois to become a major U.S. abortion destination.
- Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a bill into law in June that makes it easier to get an abortion by allowing medical professionals who are not doctors to perform the procedure.
- Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed a bill codifying the Roe v. Wade decision and protecting abortion rights in her state.
- A federal judge blocked an Indiana law in late June that would have banned second-trimester abortion procedures.
Why it matters: Supreme Court rulings have been cited to allow abortions up to 24 weeks during pregnancy when the fetus is not viable — or when a woman's health or life is at risk.
- But conservatives have been advancing more restrictive policies in the past few years, hoping to spark a fresh Supreme Court case now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Anthony Kennedy.
What they're saying:
- "For pro-life folks, these are huge victories," Sue Liebel, state director for anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, told the AP. "And I think they're indicative of the momentum and excitement and the hope that's happening with changes in the Supreme Court and having such a pro-life president."
- “The gloves are off” among abortion opponents, NARAL Pro-Choice America's Kristin Ford told Vox.“They feel like they have the wind at their backs and they don’t have to dance around their true intentions anymore.”
The bottom line: We're one major Supreme Court case away from a new era of abortion rights, an unthinkable idea before the election of President Trump.
Editor's note: This piece is being updated with the latest state-by-state decisions.