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Factbox-Abortion in America if Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

World May 04, 2022 01:51PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A police officer watches pro-life and pro-choice supporters demonstrating to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision in Washington, January 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

(Reuters) - Here's what getting an abortion in America could look like if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The first restrictions would take effect in 13 states with so-called trigger laws to be enacted if the ruling was ever overturned. The states are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.

Some trigger laws ban abortions almost completely, while others would outlaw abortion after six weeks or 15 weeks.

How quickly those trigger laws would go into effect could vary. Some could be rapid.

For example, Arkansas' trigger law takes effect as soon as the state attorney general certifies that Roe has been overturned, the Guttmacher Institute says.

In Texas, a near-total ban on abortion would go into effect 30 days after a Supreme Court decision.


The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 out of 50 U.S. states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, leaving women in large swaths of the U.S. Southwest and Midwest without nearby access to the medical procedure.

Most states where abortion would still be legal are on the West Coast (California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) or in the Northeast. Governor Gavin Newsom of California, the most populous state, on Monday proposed enshrining a right to abortion in the state's constitution.

A handful of states in the Midwest and Southwest are expected to keep abortion legal such as Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and New Mexico, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Under that scenario, a woman in Miami, Florida, might have to fly to another state or drive 11 hours, or more than 700 miles (1,100 kilometers), to reach North Carolina, where abortion is expected to remain legal.

Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont have passed legislation this year seeking to protect or expand abortion access.


Conservative states have already rushed to restrict abortion pills, which can be prescribed through online telemedicine visits. If the court overturns Roe v. Wade, they will be able to ban them altogether, experts say.

Thirty-two states allow only physicians to dispense abortion pills, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Six states, including Texas and Missouri, ban any use of telemedicine for medication abortion. Another 21 states do not have blanket bans but require at least one in-person visit, meaning patients cannot simply have a telemedicine appointment and receive the pills by mail, according to the foundation.

GRAPHIC-Telehealth restrictions for medical abortion:

Factbox-Abortion in America if Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

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