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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:

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.

Go deeper: What happens to abortion access in each state if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Editor's note: This piece is being updated with the latest state-by-state decisions.

Go deeper

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.

Fed: Rate hikes are near

The Federal Reserve's headquarters building. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve is on track to raise its main target interest rate in mid-March, as Chair Jerome Powell pledged to be "humble and nimble" in adapting policy to a fast-changing economy.

Why it matters: Fed leaders are looking to choke off inflation by raising interest rates in the near future, but keeping its options open for how fast and far the effort will go.

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.

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