Conservative Supreme Court justices have a plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, and Republican lawmakers are ready for it. In thirteen states, there are so-called “trigger laws” that would immediately ban all, or almost all, abortions if the 1973 ruling is overturned. And a total of 23 states have anti-abortion laws that could be enforced without the federal ruling.
Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky have all passed laws that would ban or curtail access to abortion if Roe is overturned. Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Ohio, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and several other states have other laws that would ban or severely restrict abortion access, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Monday night, Politico reported it had obtained an initial draft majority opinion — written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito — that would overturn the historic 1973 ruling promising the right to an abortion under the 14th Amendment. The draft reportedly also has the support of conservative justices Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh.
Without protection under the 14th Amendment, abortion would become a state-level issue, and while blue states like California would continue to give people easy access to the procedure, the Guttmacher Institute has found that nearly half the states in the U.S. have laws that could restrict legal access to abortion. Meanwhile, only 16 states — and the District of Columbia — have laws that protect an individual’s right to an abortion.
Many trigger laws would not only ban abortion outright, but heavily criminalize providers. For example, in Idaho, providing abortion would be a felony crime punishable by five years in prison, while in states like Arkansas and Oklahoma, the penalties for providing an abortion include a max $100,000 fine, 10 years in prison, or both. All-encompassing as many of these bans are, some laws do contain narrow carveouts allowing abortion in some cases, such as rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger. However, some states, like Louisiana, have laws in place that make no exception for rape or incest, and dictate that a physician must “make reasonable medical efforts… to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn” before performing an abortion to save the mother’s life.
It is important to note that currently, the opinion is merely a draft and the votes are not final. Per Politico, “Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading.” The court’s final decision is expected to be officially revealed come summer.