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WASHINGTON, DC – This week marks two months since the United States Supreme Court ruling Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization The decision overturned decades of precedent guaranteeing the right to abortion, and the effects of the decision continue to unfold as abortion bans take effect across the country.
Long before the June 24 advisory, more than a dozen states had “trigger bans” in place — laws written to ban abortion as soon as possible. Roe vs. Wadethe 1973 ruling that had legalized the procedure for almost 50 years was overturned.
Some took effect almost immediately; at least eight states have total or near-total abortion bans in place, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Others have been at least temporarily delayed by litigation or brief waiting periods enshrined in laws. This week, a new round of bans — in Tennessee, Texas, Idaho and North Dakota — are set to go into effect, barring court intervention.
A cascade of “trigger bans” across the country
To a large extent, the impact of these laws is already happening – even before they are officially implemented – due to multiple layers of restrictions.
In Texas, where abortion has been banned after about six weeks of pregnancy since last September under a law allowing individuals to sue abortion providers, change was already well underway before the Dobbs decision. The state’s trigger ban — which bans the procedure almost entirely — goes into effect this week. But already, there are no clinics offering abortions in Texas, and some have planned to leave the state for places like New Mexico.
Idaho also has an abortion ban in place that relies on civil enforcement, where individuals can sue those accused of illegally performing abortions after about six weeks. The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit in an effort to block another, even more restrictive law – the Idaho trigger ban, which is set to go into effect on August 25.
North Dakota’s only remaining clinic has — at least for now — moved its abortion services to Minnesota, where abortion remains legal. The clinic’s lawyers asked a judge to block the law from taking effect on Friday.
In Tennessee, which already has very limited access to abortion due to a ban on abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy, the law due to take effect this week goes even further, essentially banning all abortions. , with no exception for rape or incest. The law also lacks explicit exceptions for medical emergencies, although it includes a provision that would allow doctors to defend themselves against criminal abortion charges by arguing that they intervened to save a woman’s life. pregnant or to avoid the “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”
Battles continue in state and federal courts
Abortion rights groups have attempted to argue that many state constitutions provide protections for abortion rights.
For groups opposed to abortion rights, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, efforts are underway to push states to enforce abortion restrictions.
Erin Hawley, the group’s lead attorney, said she hopes to see courts in Wyoming, Arizona and elsewhere allow abortion bans to go into effect.
“I think we will see in a number of other states that these laws will come online – that the intermediate appeals courts and the state supreme courts will hopefully find out that there is no constitutional right to abortion,” Hawley said.
There are also challenges in federal courts. A federal judge is expected to take action this week in response to the Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging Idaho’s trip ban under a federal labor law.
Post Roe, sstate lawmakers consider new abortion laws
The Dobbs decision prompted some Republican state officials to consider passing new laws. In early August, Indiana lawmakers approved a near-total abortion ban, which takes effect in mid-September.
Elisabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, notes that some opponents of abortion rights have proposed legislation to prevent people from having abortions in other states.
“I think it’s important to talk about the fact that we’ll also likely see new criminal penalties for abortion providers and attendants, and some states trying to stop people from crossing borders,” Smith said.
That said, abortion rights advocates are encouraged by the results of a ballot initiative in Kansas earlier this month, in which voters strongly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have opened the door to allow state lawmakers to ban abortion. Smith notes that abortion-related ballot questions are expected to go to voters in several states — including California, Vermont, Kentucky and Michigan — in November.
Jennifer Driver is senior director of reproductive rights for the State Innovation Exchange, a group that works with lawmakers to try to increase access to abortion, even in a post-deer environment.
As new restrictions continue to take effect, Driver said more patients who can afford it will rely on out-of-state travel or use abortion pills at home. She says doctors and other health care providers in many states will continue to face dilemmas when helping patients through medical crises.
“Cutting abortion rights didn’t happen overnight, and neither will the fight to get them back,” Driver said.