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Abortion laws are changing across US. Here’s a state-by-state guide, and what it means

How abortion access would vary without Roe v. Wade

Different states have different laws in place that will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
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Different states have different laws in place that will take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

A “near-total abortion ban” passed by the Alabama Senate on Tuesday is part of a movement in some parts of the country to create restrictive new laws on abortion.

Alabama’s governor signed the bill into law Wednesday, AL.com reports. In a statement, Gov. Kay Ivey acknowledged the law would be unenforceable, according to the newspaper.

“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions,” the governor said in a press release, AL.com reports.

Some say the bill is “the most restrictive anti-abortion measure passed since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,” CBS reports.

The Alabama bill is part of a broader effort among some conservative states to restrict abortion in recent years, including proposals and new laws in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and others around the South and Midwest.

“At least 15 states, ranging from Maryland to Texas, are considering versions of ‘heartbeat’ legislation in 2019,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Here’s an update on major abortion legislation passed or considered recently by states:

Alabama: The legislation banning essentially all abortions makes “it a felony for doctors to perform or attempt to perform an abortion in the state,” AL.com reports. The only exception is for cases where a mother’s life is at risk.

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Alaska: In February, the Alaska Supreme Court blocked two laws that would have restricted “how Medicaid can be used to pay for abortions,” according to the Anchorage Daily News.

Arkansas: Lawmakers in Arkansas passed nine new bills in their most recent session restricting access to abortion, according to the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. The bills, according to the newspaper, “make the procedure illegal after 18 weeks of pregnancy; ban it entirely if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision that legalized it; ban it in the event of a fetal Down syndrome diagnosis; and ban state funding for abortions and abortion-related services for inmates.”

Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp signed Georgia’s “heartbeat” law earlier this month. It bans abortions after doctors detect a heartbeat on a fetus, normally about six weeks into a pregnancy, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kentucky: A federal judge last week struck down a law that banned a common second-trimester abortion method, according to the Associated Press. The 2018 law created “a ‘substantial obstacle’ to a woman’s right to an abortion, violating constitutionally protected privacy rights,” according to the AP. But the ruling will likely be appealed.

Louisiana: Legislators appear likely to pass a “heartbeat” bill in Louisiana, similar to Georgia’s new law, according to the Associated Press. Louisiana’s law, however, would only take effect if and when “a federal appeals court upholds a similar law in Mississippi,” the AP reports.

Mississippi: A “heartbeat” bill that would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy is being challenged in the courts, according to the AP.

Missouri: According to The Kansas City Star, “Missouri’s abortion laws, already among the most restrictive in the U.S., could tighten even more as Republican lawmakers have proposed 21 bills so far this session to further limit or almost completely ban the procedure.” With the legislature in its last week of the session, lawmakers are considering their own “heartbeat bill” and other restrictions, The Star reports.

North Carolina: The governor vetoed a bill from the North Carolina General Assembly that would have created “new criminal and civil penalties for infanticide, specifically for situations in which a baby survives an abortion procedure,” according to The News & Observer.

Ohio: A “heartbeat bill” signed into law last month is the target of a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, according to the AP. The ACLU filed the lawsuit Wednesday. According to the AP, “The ban of abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat is unconstitutional and would prohibit nearly all abortions in Ohio. A detectable heartbeat can come as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant.”

South Carolina: A “heartbeat bill” passed the South Carolina House last month, according to The State. The bill is now with the state Senate, online legislative records show.

Tennessee: A “heartbeat bill” passed the state House, but failed in the Senate this spring, according to the Tennessean.

“Jane Roe” in 1973's Roe v. Wade case was a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey of Texas. At that time, abortion was outlawed in Texas except in rare cases.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.


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