Pro-life protesters hold signs in front of the US Supreme Court awaiting its decision on the legality of a Republican-backed Louisiana law restricting abortion doctors in Washington, US, June 22, 2020.
Kevin Lemarck | Reuters
Several US states banned abortion immediately on Friday in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, dividing the nation between jurisdictions where the procedure is legal and where it is prohibited.
The Supreme Court ruling ended half a century of constitutionally protected abortion rights, meaning states will now be allowed to regulate the procedure.
At least 13 states have laws on the books that ban abortion immediately or will soon do so.
Abortion bans went into effect in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Laws make abortion a crime punishable by years in prison. They are not exempt from rape or incest. However, women cannot be prosecuted for abortion under the laws.
On the West Coast, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington Pledge to expand access To abort and protect women who come to their states in need of this procedure.
Read the reactions to the overturned Roe v. Wade case
Anyone who performs an abortion in Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma faces up to 10 years in prison unless the procedure is done to save the pregnant woman’s life. Arkansas and Louisiana also make exceptions for doctors to terminate ectopic pregnancies or treat miscarriages.
In Missouri, anyone who performs an abortion will face a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, unless the procedure is performed in a medical emergency.
Pro-choice advocates and Planned Parenthood employees march outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center in St. Louis, Missouri, May 31, 2019, the last location in the state to perform abortions.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
In Kentucky, anyone who performs an abortion will face a penalty of up to five years in prison. The law provides exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman or actions by physicians that lead to an unintended termination of pregnancy. Democratic Governor Andy Bashir condemned the law as extremist.
Anyone who performs an abortion in South Dakota now faces up to two years in prison, unless the procedure is performed to protect the mother’s life.
Idaho, Tennessee and Texas will implement abortion bans within 30 days, according to the text of the statutes. Abortion bans in Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming go into effect after the attorney general, governor, or some legislature certifies that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe’s case.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that the Department of Justice will protect women traveling from states that are prohibited from having abortions in states where the procedure is legal.
“There are few rights that are more important to individual liberty than the right to control one’s own body,” Garland said. And the Department of Justice will use every tool at our disposal to protect reproductive freedom. And we will not waive this department’s founding responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
Abortion pills next flash point
Countries that ban abortion also prohibit the use of the abortion pill to terminate a pregnancy. However, women cannot be punished for abortion under the laws, which means that many people may turn to online pharmacies located abroad to have the pills delivered to their homes.
Boxes of the medicine Mifepristone used to induce medical abortion are prepared for patients at the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Birmingham, Alabama, March 14, 2022.
Evelyn Hochstein | Reuters
The abortion pill, mifepristone, is approved in the United States to terminate pregnancies before the 10th week of pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration first approved the drug in 2000, but has required women to get it in person under a program that monitors some drugs for safety risks. Abortion rights advocates have strongly criticized the FDA’s requirements, arguing that mifepristone has a long, proven track record as a safe and effective method for early termination of pregnancy.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the US Food and Drug Administration temporarily removed the requirement for women to take the pill in person. In December, the agency permanently ended the in-person requirement, which will allow approved pharmacies in the United States to fill and send prescriptions by mail.
Garland said states cannot ban mifepristone based on disagreements with the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that the drug is safe and effective. US Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said his department will use “every lever” to protect access to abortion care, including the pill.
Medical abortion is becoming increasingly common in the United States More than half of all abortions in the United States are performed using the pill, according to a Guttmacher Institute survey of all known providers in the United States.
Although state bans do not penalize women who undergo abortions, there have been cases in which authorities have been informed of an attempt to terminate their pregnancies.
In April, a woman in South Texas He was charged with premeditated murder after allegedly performing a self-abortion. The attorney general eventually dismissed the indictment, saying she clearly “cannot and should not be prosecuted because of the allegation against her.”