Following the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated a constitutional right to abortion nationwide, more than a dozen US states have banned or severely restricted access to the procedure.
Nine states, including Alabama, Kentucky and Missouri, have banned abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest. Mississippi’s near-total ban has an exception for rape but not incest. States where abortion is most limited report higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, as well as greater economic insecurity.
The fight over abortion is well underway in state legislatures. Most recently, South Carolina passed a six-week fetal heartbeat bill that was blocked by a circuit court judge 24 hours later. Nebraska passed a bill that both bans abortion at 12 weeks and restricts gender-affirming care for people younger than 19 years. North Carolina’s Republican-led General Assembly voted to ban abortion after 12 weeks starting July 1, overriding a veto of the measure by the state’s Democratic governor. Abortion is currently legal there through 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Health care providers and abortion activists have continued to file legal challenges to stop bans in several states from being enforced. Earlier this year, South Carolina’s state Supreme Court overturned a six-week ban — similar to the most recently blocked ban — concluding in a 3-2 decision that the law violated the state constitution’s privacy protections. Georgia’s six-week ban was blocked in November by a state court, but days later, Georgia’s Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect while an appeal by the state plays out. A district judge in Wyoming also temporarily blocked the state’s new abortion ban days after it went into effect in March, meaning abortion remains legal until viability for now.
As these legal challenges make their way through the courts, patients seeking access to the procedure must navigate a complicated patchwork of legislation, often requiring them to travel hundreds of miles.
Here’s where abortion access currently stands in the United States.
More like this:
Priya Krishnakumar and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.