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Here’s What Will Happen If The Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade



The Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade and give states the freedom to outlaw abortion, according to a draft opinion reported by Politico, which would result in more than a dozen states swiftly banning the procedure, with more likely to follow—and could result in even bigger implications like a nationwide ban or other rights being targeted.

Key Facts

If Roe is overturned, 13 states have “trigger bans” in effect that will ban abortion immediately or soon after the ruling comes out, as compiled by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Another five states still have abortion bans from before Roe was decided that will go back into effect if it’s struck down: Alabama, Arizona, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan, whose pre-Roe ban Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is now challenging in court.

Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and South Carolina have six-week abortion bans that would likely now take effect, and the Guttmacher Institute predicts it’s likely Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebaska would also move to ban the procedure.

Democratic-led states are expected to preserve abortion access, with 15 states already having a law or state Constitution that protects abortion rights, according to the Pew Charitable Trust: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, plus Washington, D.C.

Some states like Washington are also enacting laws that are designed to help ensure people can travel from other states for the procedure.

The Food and Drug Administration changed its regulations in December to allow medication abortion pills to be sent by mail, which would expand access to abortion, but at least 19 states have bans on getting the pills delivered by mail or via telehealth—which could still be challenged in court—and more will likely follow.

What To Watch For

What will happen on the federal level. The House has already passed a bill that would codify abortion rights into law and President Joe Biden called for its passage in the Senate Tuesday, but it remains unlikely to get enough support in the chamber to get through. Biden also said his administration “will be ready” when the court issues its final opinion, though it’s unclear what that means or if the White House will take any executive action in response. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have already been working with anti-abortion rights activists on legislation that would ban abortion nationwide as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the Washington Post reported Monday, which they’re likely to introduce should the GOP regain control of Congress in November.

What We Don’t Know

Whether a ruling overturning Roe will have implications beyond abortion, as the Supreme Court has also granted other rights like same-sex marriage and obtaining birth control pills that, like Roe, were not explicitly granted in the Constitution. Roe falling means these rights could be challenged and the court could be willing to overturn its precedents, even as Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion shared by Politico that the court’s decision “concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right.”

Big Number

40%. That’s the share of Americans who said they actually want their state to completely ban or restrict abortion if Roe is overturned, according to a January CNN poll, while a larger 59% majority want their state to enact laws that are more permissive. Polling has consistently found a majority of Americans support legal access to abortion and don’t want Roe to be overturned.

Key Background

The Supreme Court is now weighing a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban and whether states can restrict abortion even before a fetus is viable. While it had been unclear whether the 6-3 conservative court would merely uphold the Mississippi law or go even further, Politico reported Monday night that a draft opinion from February suggests the court is expected to overturn Roe entirely. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito reportedly writes. The court has not formally released its opinion yet and the final version could change from what was leaked, with a final decision likely released in June. The ruling comes as many GOP-led states had already been enacting abortion bans ahead of the court’s ruling, ranging from 15-week bans passed in Florida and Arizona to Oklahoma passing three abortion bans in the span of a month and making performing the procedure a felony.

Further Reading

Supreme Court Reportedly Plans To Overturn Roe V. Wade, According To Leaked Draft Opinion (Forbes)

Republicans Will Try To Ban Abortion Nationwide If Supreme Court Overturns Roe V. Wade, Report Reveals (Forbes)

Republicans won’t be satisfied with overturning Roe (Washington Post)

How Americans Really Feel About Abortion: The Sometimes Surprising Poll Results As Supreme Court Reportedly Set To Overturn Roe V. Wade (Forbes)

26 States Are Certain or Likely to Ban Abortion Without Roe: Here’s Which Ones and Why (Guttmacher Institute)

Abortion Pills, Once a Workaround, Are Now a Target (New York Times)



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