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If Roe V. Wade Is Repealed, Abortion May Be Prohibited in More Than Half of the US

Millions more Americans will reside in places where access to abortion care will be prohibited if the US Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade decision because there are no constitutional safeguards that affirm the right to an abortion and no federal statute that codifies that right.

According to statutes created to go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, thirteen states could swiftly or immediately criminalise abortion.

Despite being declared unconstitutional by the Roe decision in 1973, seven states continue to have abortion restrictions that have been in place for many years. More than twenty states have incredibly restrictive laws that could be used to stop receiving legal assistance.

However, more than a dozen states and Washington, D.C., have laws that protect the right to an abortion. These laws may include explicit protections in state constitutions or provisions that permit abortions up to a certain point or throughout pregnancy.

Twelve states permit abortions before viability, which corresponds to the point in pregnancy between 22 and 24 weeks when a foetus can survive outside the womb. The Roe decision confirmed that the Constitution safeguards the ability to abort a child before viability.

The ability to have an abortion up until delivery has been codified in three states and Washington, DC.

In recent months, some states have strengthened those protections as the Supreme Court gets ready to rule in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case involving a Mississippi law that forbade abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The disparity in abortion rights in the US, which varies from state to state or county to county in some states, results in a patchwork of care and criminalization, with differing protections for bodily autonomy depending on where one lives.


The majority of states that protect access to abortion are on the East and West coasts, enclosing a gulf of anti-abortion states in the South and Midwest, forcing patients, like those living in Louisiana and Mississippi, to travel several hundred miles to access legal care.

The demand from patients driven from their states will put a strain on an already overburdened and frail infrastructure of care, providers and organisers of abortion funds fear. Patients are expected to travel in droves to states where access to abortion is protected.

Voters will be allowed to decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to include essential protections for abortion care after state legislators approved a proposal.

In a statement earlier this year, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said, “We know we can’t trust the Supreme Court to protect reproductive rights, so California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution.”

To increase access and decrease costs, the governor also approved legislation that prohibits insurance companies from charging deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments for abortion care.

This year, Governor Jared Polis approved legislation ensuring the freedom to “have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right.” A fertilised egg, embryo, or foetus “does not have independent or derivative rights” under state law, it further states.

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The state protects the right to an abortion up until viability; after that point, abortion care is only permitted to safeguard the patient’s life or health.

Governor Ned Lamont also signed legislation that protects medical professionals who perform abortions from lawsuits in states that have criminalised care, as well as out-of-state patients who travel to the state to receive the procedure.

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