The most restrictive abortion laws in generations are currently spreading across America's red states, setting up what could be a precedent-smashing Supreme Court challenge to the abortion status quo.
Driving the news: A federal judge temporarily blocked 3 new abortion restrictions late Tuesday night in Arkansas, reports NPR. The laws would have taken effect Wednesday had the judge not intervened, and would have limited abortion to the middle of the second trimester of pregnancy.
States that have passed abortion restrictions:
- Louisiana passed a fetal heartbeat law in May. (Effective if a judge lifts the block in the Mississippi suit.)
- Alabama passed a near total ban on abortion. (Effective November 2019.)
- 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.
- Mississippi passed a fetal heartbeat law. It's been temporarily blocked by a judge.
- Georgia passed a fetal heartbeat law. (Effective January 2020.)
- Utah voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. (Currently 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. (Effective August 2019.)
States considering abortion restrictions:
- Florida is considering 2 bills — one limiting abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and the second is fetal heartbeat bill.
- South Carolina is considering 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.