(LifeSiteNews) – Fourteen states now ban nearly all abortions following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
See which states have the strongest pro-life laws, which are “havens” for abortion, and what comes next in the fight for life with LifeSite’s map of abortion laws. Click on the blue and yellow states for more information. For mobile devices, click and hold the individual states to see the descriptions.
You can find more information about pro-life developments and the constantly shifting landscape of abortion in America in the article below.
States where abortion bans have taken effect
Abortion is now virtually illegal or significantly restricted in more than a dozen states, many of which have implemented what are known as “trigger” laws designed to take effect immediately upon the reversal of Roe v. Wade and which criminalize abortion throughout pregnancy.
Clinics shuttering: The bans are a devastating blow to the abortion industry: Since June 24, 2022, abortion facilities have stopped abortions in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Abortions initially stopped in Arizona, Indiana, Utah, and Wyoming but have resumed for now due to court orders.
Over 130,000 abortions took place in those states in 2019, according to CDC data. Another more than 137,000 abortions occurred in states that have enacted at least a heartbeat law, including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina.
READ: Pro-life laws are stopping tens of thousands of abortions in America
Life-saving: Data from the pro-abortion Society of Family Planning last year shows that abortions declined by 10,000 in the initial two months following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. An analysis published by the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute found that Texas’ births increased by 5,000 between March and July 2022, indicating that the state’s heartbeat law saved thousands of lives.
Around one-third of women aged 13 to 44 in the U.S. now live in states where total or near-total bans have taken effect, including more than 6 million in Texas alone. For many of those women, the nearest abortion facility is hundreds of miles away.
Strict penalties: Penalties for abortions in many conservative states are extremely prohibitive. In Alabama and Texas, committing any elective abortion is now a felony equivalent to rape or murder and can lead to life imprisonment. In Louisiana, aborting a minor’s baby carries up to 50 years in prison.
Few exceptions: Most states with bans at conception prohibit abortion both for rape and incest, in a striking testament to the increased awareness of the personhood of the unborn and a break with longtime Republican policy.
READ: New documentary shows the truth about abortion “exceptions”
Abortion not ‘necessary’: Every state continues to allow exceptions when “necessary” to save the mother’s life due to a physical condition. Experts attest that abortion is not medically necessary under any circumstances, however, and many pro-lifers and the Catholic Church point out that it is always the morally impermissible, deliberate killing of an innocent human being.
Abortionists lament that exemptions in the newly-enforceable bans are often so narrow as to make them hesitant to commit any abortions for fear of prosecution and make it impossible to maintain a clinic.
Despite false claims by Democrats and pro-abortion activists, no state prohibits treatment for miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Nearly every state explicitly exempts pregnant women who obtain abortions from criminal penalties.
Idaho became the first state to limit interstate travel for abortion, with a law signed by Gov. Brad Little in April 2023 that bars anyone from taking a minor out of state for an abortion without parental consent.
ALABAMA – Ban throughout pregnancy
Abortion is illegal at all stages of pregnancy in Alabama. A federal court lifted an injunction on the state’s near-total abortion ban enacted in 2019, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced within hours of the Dobbs ruling.
Penalties: The 2019 law, known as the Human Life Protection Act, makes committing an abortion a Class A felony that can result in life imprisonment. Class A felonies are the highest level of crimes in Alabama and include first-degree murder and first-degree rape.
Exceptions: The law allows exceptions when “necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” including death, and for fatal fetal anomalies. Alabama has another 1951 pre-Roe ban on the books that outlaws abortion except to preserve a mother’s life or health.
Impact: The last three abortion facilities in Alabama halted all abortions on June 24.
ARIZONA – 15-week ban; ban throughout pregnancy (blocked)
Arizona has a pre-Roe law from 1901 that bans abortion throughout pregnancy with penalties of up to five years in prison for anyone who aborts a woman’s baby or helps her to do so. The only exception is when an abortion would be “necessary to save [the mother’s] life.”
The law, which does not penalize women who have abortions, was blocked in 1973, shortly after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.
Blocked: The Arizona Court of Appeals blocked the law again on October 7 at the request of Planned Parenthood, two weeks after Pima County Judge Kellie Johnson lifted the previous injunction. The court ruled in December that doctors cannot be charged under the law, though it allowed a newer 15-week ban to take effect.
Johnson had ruled that the 1901 law must take effect after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. “The court finds that because the legal basis for the judgment entered in 1973 has now been overruled, it must vacate the judgment in its entirety,” she wrote, siding against Planned Parenthood, which argued that a more recent 15-week ban signed in 2022 by then-Gov. Doug Ducey should take precedence.
Former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich had argued that the pre-Roe ban should be enforced and praised Johnson’s ruling in a statement. “We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” he said.
Impact: Planned Parenthood of Arizona and other abortion businesses in the state stopped abortions after the fall of Roe, but many had begun offering them to varying extents in recent months. All clinics ceased abortions again due to Johnson’s order, but killings have since resumed after the appeals court decision.
Eugenic abortion ban: Brnovich has indicated that another pro-life law enacted in 2021 that prohibits abortions due to race, sex, or non-lethal genetic abnormality may also take effect with Roe out of the way. That law, SB 1457, makes knowingly committing a eugenic abortion a Class 3 felony except in cases of “medical emergency” necessitating an immediate abortion to avoid the mother’s death or a serious, permanent injury, based on “good faith clinical judgment.”
Fetal personhood: It also contains a provision declaring unborn babies legal persons “at every stage of development” and granting them “all rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state, subject only the Constitution of the United States” and constitutional decisions of the Supreme Court.
A federal judge in 2021 blocked part of SB 1457 that bans eugenic abortions. The same judge blocked the fetal personhood provision in July.
ARKANSAS – Ban throughout pregnancy
Abortion is illegal throughout pregnancy in Arkansas.
A 2019 trigger law came into effect after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified on June 24 that the Supreme Court had struck down Roe, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported. “None of us thought today would come in our lifetimes,” Rutledge said.
Penalties: Anyone other than the mother who commits or attempts to commit an abortion can now face felony charges, fines of up to $100,000, and up to 10 years in prison.
Exceptions: The trigger law allows exceptions only when “necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury.”
Impact: In response to the trigger law, Planned Parenthood Great Plains has completely halted abortions in Arkansas.
FLORIDA – 15-week ban; six-week ban (not yet in effect)
In Florida, a 15-week abortion ban signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022 is in effect as litigation continues.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper placed an injunction on the law in July, but it came back into effect automatically when DeSantis appealed the decision on the same day. Cooper later rejected a request from abortion clinics to vacate the stay on his injunction, allowing the 15-week ban to remain in force.
The Florida Supreme Court agreed in January 2023 to hear a challenge to the law. The high court invented a “right” to abortion in the Florida Constitution in 1989, but all of the current justices were appointed by Republican governors, and four of the seven are DeSantis appointees.
In April 2023, DeSantis signed a law bans most abortions after six weeks. It would take effect 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court upholds the 15-week ban.
Penalties: Illegal abortions can result in third-degree felony charges, which carry up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Exceptions: When allegedly “necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman other than a psychological condition,” based on the “reasonable medical judgment” of two physicians. Abortions may also take place prior to the third trimester if at least two doctors agree that an unborn baby would not survive after birth, again based on “reasonable medical judgment.”
The 15-week ban doesn’t include rape or incest exceptions, but the six-week ban allows exceptions for rape, incest, and human trafficking with documentation, such as a police report or court order, up to 15 weeks.
GEORGIA – Ban at around six weeks
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Georgia’s previously blocked fetal heartbeat law to take effect on July 20, citing the Dobbs decision.
“Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Org., makes clear that no right to abortion exists under the Constitution, so Georgia may prohibit them,” the court ruled.
“Georgia’s prohibition on abortions after detectable human heartbeat is rational,” the decision added. “’Respect for and preservation of prenatal life at all stages of development’ is a legitimate interest.”
The 2019 law, also known as the LIFE Act, prohibits abortion once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected — typically by around six weeks of pregnancy but sometimes as early as five weeks.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced on June 24 that he asked the 11th Circuit to let the law go into effect immediately after the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
A Fulton County judge overturned the law in November, but Georgia officials immediately appeal the decision. The Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the LIFE Act the following week.
Exceptions: The LIFE Act allows exceptions for rape and incest reported to law enforcement up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, “medically futile” pregnancies, and when “necessary in order to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
Penalties: Abortionists can face penalties of up to 10 years in prison for criminal abortions.
Georgia’s heartbeat law also features a unique component defining unborn babies as legal persons “at any stage of development” under Georgia law.
Planned Parenthood Southeast and other abortion groups argued that the personhood provisions were unconstitutionally vague, but the 11th Circuit rejected those claims. “The expanded definition of natural person is not vague on its face,” the court’s ruling states.
IDAHO – Ban throughout pregnancy
Idaho’s trigger law and another six-week ban with civil penalties took effect following an August 2022 decision from the Idaho Supreme Court.
Exceptions: The trigger ban outlaws abortion at all stages of pregnancy with exceptions for incest and rape reported to law enforcement or when “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,” though not to prevent potential self-harm.
When committing an abortion allegedly to save the life of a pregnant woman, a doctor must provide “the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” unless doing so would put the woman at greater risk of death or serious injury.
Penalties: “Under the trigger law, the person performing the abortion could face a felony prosecution punishable by up to five years in prison,” according to the Associated Press. Doctors could lose their licenses for committing illegal abortions.
Pro-death Biden regime: The Biden administration has sued to block the pro-life law, alleging that the narrow life-of-the-mother exception conflicts with federal requirements. A federal judge ruled in August 2022 that Idaho must allow broader exceptions for medical emergencies that allegedly pose serious risks to a woman’s health.
In January 2023, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld the state’s abortion bans and ruled that the Idaho Constitution does not protect any “right” to abortion.
Abortion trafficking ban: In April 2023, Idaho became the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion with a law signed by Republican Gov. Brad Little that criminalizes taking minors out of state for abortions without parental consent.
INDIANA – Ban on dismemberment abortion; ban throughout pregnancy (temporarily blocked)
On August 5, Indiana enacted a law, Senate Bill 1, banning abortion throughout pregnancy with some exceptions. It took effect September 15, but an Owen County judge temporarily blocked it on September 22 as litigation continues.
The Indiana Supreme Court has declined to reinstate the law for now but is expected issue a ruling in the coming weeks.
Exceptions: For rape and incest up to 10 weeks, fatal fetal anomalies up to 20 weeks, and when a medical condition “necessitates an abortion to prevent death or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” excluding mental conditions, or when “necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life.”
The notably broad rape and incest exceptions allow abortions only with certification by the abortionist. An earlier version of the law required an affidavit.
Penalties: Level 5 felony charges and between one to six years in prison, fines of up to $10,000, and loss of medical license.
Pro-life advocates have criticized the exceptions in the bill and initially condemned the measure due to a lack of enforcement provisions. Following amendments in the state House, however, Indiana Right to Life expressed “renewed hope” that the bill will end more than 95 percent of abortions in the state.
“House amendments will make abortion clinics a thing of the past in Indiana, requiring that abortions for limited circumstances be done in hospitals, or hospital-owned surgical centers,” the group said. “The House also tightened language for the life of the mother exception, limited abortions to ten weeks in circumstances of rape or incest, and limited abortions for lethal fetal anomalies to 20 weeks.”
A ban on dismemberment abortion, the most common abortion procedure in the second trimester, took effect in Indiana on July 8, 2022, after a federal judge lifted an injunction that she had placed on it in 2019. The same judge upheld the law in March 2023.
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita also announced in June that he asked federal courts to dissolve orders blocking a slate of abortion restrictions, including a law that prohibits abortions based on race, sex, or disability and a parental notification measure.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order on July 18, 2022, allowing Indiana to enforce the parental notification law.
KENTUCKY — Ban throughout pregnancy
Kentucky’s trigger law banned abortion in the state immediately following the reversal of Roe v. Wade and came back into effect on August 1, 2022, after a state court blocked it.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mitch Perry halted enforcement of the law and an already-blocked six-week ban at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood days after the Dobbs ruling. On July 22, Perry granted a longer injunction requested by abortion facilities.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals then granted an emergency request sought by Attorney General Daniel Cameron to reinstate the laws. In February 2023, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled to keep the bans in place while a lawsuit against them continues.
Kentucky’s trigger law defines an unborn child as a “human being” from fertilization and prohibits any procedure “with the specific intent of causing or abetting” the death of an unborn baby at any stage of embryonic or fetal development.
“No person shall knowingly administer to, prescribe for, procure for, or sell to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being,” the law states.
Penalties: Abortions can result in Class D felony charges and up to five years in prison for anyone other than the mother.
Exceptions: The trigger law exempts abortions committed when “necessary” to prevent the mother’s death or permanent injury to a “life-sustaining organ” in a physician’s “reasonable medical judgment,” but requires doctors to “make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of the unborn human being.”
Impact: Kentucky’s two abortion clinics have cancelled abortions.
A 15-week abortion ban also took effect in July 2022 after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings lifted an order halting it.
LOUISIANA – Ban throughout pregnancy
A court ruled on July 29, 2022, that Louisiana’s ban on abortion throughout pregnancy could go into effect amid an ongoing legal battle.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry had announced on June 24 that the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade activated a 2006 trigger law prohibiting nearly all abortions from conception. The state has enacted multiple trigger bans in recent years.
But days later, a state judge in New Orleans issued a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of Louisiana’s abortion bans. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, a law firm with deep ties to the Democratic Party, sued to block the laws on behalf of an abortion facility, arguing that they were unconstitutionally vague.
District Judge Ethel Julien declined to extend the order in July, however, saying that the suit should have been filed in the state’s capital, Baton Rouge, rather than New Orleans. A Democratic judge in Baton Rouge, District Judge Donald Johnson, subsequently blocked the bans the following week.
Pro-life court victory: But on July 29, the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state may again enforce its abortion ban as Attorney General Landry appealed Johnson’s decision. The law went back into effect that day, shutting down the state’s three abortion clinics. Landry had filed a supervisory writ asking the 1st Circuit Court to lift Johnson’s injunction.
The Louisiana Supreme Court in August 2022 denied an appeal by the abortion facilities and allowed the bans to remain in effect.
The state constitution explicitly rejects a “right” to abortion.
Penalties: Under Louisiana law, anyone who commits an abortion or intentionally provides a pregnant woman with substances to kill her unborn child can face up to 10 years imprisonment and $100,000 in fines. Late-term abortions (15+ weeks) can result in up to 15 years in prison and $200,000 in fines. Committing an abortion of a minor can lead to up to 50 years in prison.
Exceptions: Louisiana permits exceptions when “necessary” to prevent the death of the mother “due to a physical condition,” to avoid “serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ of a pregnant woman,” or if two doctors agree that an unborn baby would not survive after birth.
For an abortion allegedly to save the mother’s life, a physician must “make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with reasonable medical practice,” the 2006 trigger law states.
MISSISSIPPI – Ban throughout pregnancy
Mississippi’s trigger law banning abortion at all stages of pregnancy took effect July 7, 2022. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch certified on June 27 that Roe v. Wade had fallen, starting a 10-day countdown until the ban could come into effect.
Penalties: Anyone but the mother who commits or attempts to commit an abortion or who prescribes abortion-inducing drugs to a pregnant woman risks up to 10 years in prison.
Exceptions: The trigger law provides exemptions when “necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life” or if the mother has filed a formal charge of rape, but not for incest.
Mississippi has another six-week abortion ban in effect that does not allow exceptions for rape, meaning that Mississippi residents can obtain abortions for rape only up to six weeks of pregnancy.
Impact: The sole abortion clinic in Mississippi was officially sold in 2022, within weeks of the Supreme Court’s decision. That clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was at the center of the Dobbs case. The former owner has said that she is opening a new abortion facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where abortion is legal on demand with no gestational limit.
MISSOURI – Ban throughout pregnancy
Missouri became the first state to criminalize abortion on June 24, 2022, Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson announced. Parson and then-Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt signed proclamations activating Missouri’s Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act within minutes of the Dobbs decision.
Exceptions: The act prohibits all abortions unless a medical condition would “necessitate” one to avoid the mother’s death or “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function,” based on a physician’s “reasonable medical judgment.”
Penalties: Otherwise, inducing an abortion in Missouri is a Class B felony that carries up to 15 years in prison.
Impact: Planned Parenthood ceased abortions at the state’s last mill.
MONTANA — Ban on dismemberment abortion (temporarily blocked)
In May 2023, Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a ban on dismemberment abortion. It took effect immediately, but a state judge, District Court Judge Mike Menahan, temporarily blocked it days later.
Abortion in Montana is legal on demand up to viability and after when allegedly “necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” A 20-week ban signed by Gianforte in 2021 is blocked in court.
The Republican governor signed a 24-week ban and slate of other pro-life laws, including a ban on taxpayer funding for elective abortion, in 2023. The 24-week ban is also currently blocked.
Abortion remains protected by a 1999 decision of the Montana Supreme Court that Republican leaders are challenging. The court currently has a liberal majority.
Montana Republicans won a supermajority in the state legislature in 2022, allowing them to refer constitutional amendments directly to voters without input from Democrats.
NEBRASKA – Ban at 12 weeks
In May 2023, Nebraska Republican Gov. Jim Pillen signed a bill that bans abortion at 12 weeks. It took effect immediately.
Legislative Bill 574 contains exceptions for rape, incest, and when the mother’s medical condition would allegedly “necessitate the termination of her pregnancy to avert her death” or a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” in a physician’s “reasonable medical judgment.”
The Nebraska legislature failed to pass stronger a heartbeat bill in April 2023 due to the opposition of a single GOP senator, Merv Riepe.
NORTH DAKOTA – Ban throughout pregnancy
North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum signed a law in April 2023 that bans abortion throughout pregnancy, with exceptions.
Penalties: The law, Senate Bill 2150, makes abortion a Class C felony carrying up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Exceptions: For cases of rape and incest up to six weeks and when “necessary based on reasonable medical judgment” to avoid “the death or a serious health risk” to the mother. Women do not need a police report to obtain an abortion for alleged rape or incest, and such abortions can take place based merely on an abortionist’s “reasonable medical judgment.”
Before the overturn of Roe v. Wade, North Dakota enacted a similar trigger ban, but it remains blocked in court.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley moved to enforce the trigger law in July 2022, but a state judge temporarily stopped him from doing so on procedural grounds. Judge Bruce Romanick ruled that Wrigley “prematurely attempted to execute the triggering language.”
Wrigley later said that he issued a new certification and that the ban was set to take effect on August 26, but Romanick issued a preliminary injunction on August 25 that kept the law blocked.
The North Dakota Supreme Court upheld Romanick’s injunction in March and ruled that the law will remain blocked while a lawsuit against it proceed. The high court also ruled the state constitution protects a women’s “right” to obtain an abortion for “her life or her health.”
OHIO – Ban at around six weeks (temporarily blocked)
After the Supreme Court released the Dobbs decision, abortion in Ohio quickly became illegal when a baby’s heartbeat can first be detected, which is typically at around six weeks of pregnancy.
On June 24, a federal judge dissolved an injunction on the state’s 2019 heartbeat bill following a request from Attorney General Dave Yost, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The injunction was based on Roe and later pro-abortion Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Yost said. The Supreme Court also overturned Casey in the Dobbs ruling.
“The Heartbeat Bill is now the law,” Yost declared.
Penalties: Illegal abortions can result in felony charges and up to one year in prison.
Exceptions: When a “medical emergency or medical necessity” of a pregnant woman “necessitates the immediate performance or inducement of an abortion.”
Over the summer, the Ohio Supreme Court refused a request from Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups to halt the heartbeat law. Republicans hold a 4-3 majority on the court.
Ban blocked: But Hamilton County Judge Christian A. Jenkins, a Democrat, temporarily blocked the law for two weeks on September 14. Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis responded: “We are more than confident that the heartbeat law will go back into effect relatively soon,” he said. “Further, we can assure pro-life Ohio that in the near future Ohio will become abortion free, regardless of what this local judge ruled today.”
Jenkins has since issued a preliminary injunction against the law.
OKLAHOMA – Ban throughout pregnancy
Oklahoma’s trigger law went into effect soon after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, allowing the enforcement of an abortion ban throughout pregnancy, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and then-Attorney General John O’Connor announced.
Penalties: Anyone who commits an abortion or prescribes, administers, or “advises” a woman to take abortion-inducing substances or procures them for her can face between two and five years in prison under Section 861, a state statute dating back to 1910.
O’Connor on June 24 certified that the Supreme Court reversed Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The certification “immediately put into effect Oklahoma’s trigger law, which also means—because the Attorney General certified it—that Section 861’s total criminal ban on abortion throughout pregnancy can be enforced,” according to Stitt’s office.
“Law enforcement is now activated in respect to any effort to aid, abet or solicit any abortions,” O’Connor warned.
Exceptions: Section 861 allows exceptions only when “necessary to preserve [the mother’s] life.”
Oklahoma had already outlawed virtually all abortions in May 2022 with a ban enforced by civil lawsuits that took effect despite Roe v. Wade. That measure, modeled after Texas’ heartbeat law, allowed abortion in cases of incest or sexual assault reported to police.
However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down both the trigger law and the civil ban in May 2023, though Section 861 remains in effect, prohibiting nearly all abortions.
The high court declared that the two newer laws do not have broad enough exceptions if a woman’s life is allegedly in danger. A decision from the court in March 2023 created a “limited right” in the Oklahoma Constitution to abortion “at any point” if a doctor believes that a pregnancy would endanger the mother’s life.
Impact: Clinics in Oklahoma have stopped committing abortions since May 2022.
SOUTH CAROLINA – Ban at around six weeks (temporarily blocked)
In May 2023, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a new heartbeat law, Senate Bill 474, that bans abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy. It took effect immediately, but a state judge temporarily blocked it hours later.
McMaster and Republican legislative leaders have filed an emergency petition to the South Carolina Supreme Court for an expedited hearing of the case.
In January 2023, the high court invented a “right” to abortion in the South Carolina Constitution and overturned the state’s previous heartbeat law enacted in 2021. The earlier law had taken effect in June 2022 after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, though the state supreme court temporarily blocked it in August.
But in February, McMaster appointed a new, more conservative replacement for the outgoing justice who authored the January pro-abortion decision, shifting the court to the right.
Penalties: Violations carry felony charges and penalties of up to $10,000 in fines, imprisonment of up to two years, or both.
Exceptions: Up to 12 weeks of pregnancy for incest or rape that abortionists must report to law enforcement, as well as for “fatal fetal anomalies” or when allegedly necessary “to prevent the serious risk of a substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman” or her death, excluding mental conditions, based on a physician’s “reasonable medical judgment.”
The law requires an abortionist to perform an ultrasound to test for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion and criminalizes aborting or attempting to abort a baby with a detectable heartbeat other than for the specified exceptions.
Near-total ban failed: In September, the South Carolina Senate failed to pass a near-total ban at conception approved by the state House after five Republican senators joined all Democrats to block it, though a majority of senators supported the measure.
State senate elections in 2024 may determine whether Republicans finally have enough votes to pass a bill that would abortion at conception.
SOUTH DAKOTA – Ban throughout pregnancy
Abortion is illegal in South Dakota under the state’s trigger law.
Penalties: The 2005 law makes inducing an abortion or prescribing or procuring abortion-causing substances for a pregnant woman a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and $4,000 in fines.
Exceptions: The only exception is when an abortion would be “necessary to preserve the life” of the mother based on “appropriate and reasonable medical judgment.”
Impact: The last abortion facility in South Dakota had already shut down in mid-June.
TENNESSEE – Ban throughout pregnancy
Abortion is now illegal in Tennessee, after a trigger ban enacted by the state in 2019 took effect on August 25, 2022, criminalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy.
Penalties: Committing an abortion is a Class C felony carrying up to 15 years in prison under the law.
Exceptions: The trigger ban allows exception when “necessary” to avoid the mother’s death or “serious risk” of permanent injury to a “major bodily function.”
Heartbeat law: A federal court had also allowed the state’s heartbeat ban to take effect in late June 2022. That law prohibits abortion as a Class C felony once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected and on the basis of race, sex, or a diagnosis of Down syndrome. It permits exceptions for medical emergencies that would “necessitate” an abortion “to avert the death of the pregnant woman” or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions,” based on a physician’s “good faith medical judgment.”
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery had asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to lift an injunction on the heartbeat law.
Impact: All abortion facilities in Tennessee announced that they are shutting down.
TEXAS – Ban throughout pregnancy
A trigger law took effect in Texas on August 25, 2022, criminalizing abortion from the moment of fertilization. Anyone other than the mother who commits, attempts, or induces an abortion can face life imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines.
Pre-Roe ban: Texas also has pre-Roe abortion restrictions on the books, including a total ban from 1925 and a law that makes it a crime to “furnish the means for procuring an abortion.”
Enforceable: State District Judge Christine Weems temporarily blocked those laws at the request of several abortion facilities represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights.
The Texas Supreme Court subsequently ordered that the 1925 ban could be civilly enforced as litigation continued. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately appealed Weems’ ruling.
The Texas Supreme Court order didn’t lift an injunction against district attorneys, however, preventing criminal enforcement of the law, though it did allow for abortion providers to face civil penalties, including fines and suspension of licenses, the Dallas Morning News reported. The pre-Roe law penalizes anyone who causes an abortion with between two and five years in prison, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Heartbeat act: Texas has prohibited abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy since September 2021 through the Texas Heartbeat Act, which state and federal courts let stand for months even while Roe remained in place. The law escaped injunction in part due to a unique enforcement mechanism that relies on civil lawsuits brought by private citizens as opposed to government prosecution.
Exceptions: The Texas heartbeat law allows exceptions when “necessary” due to a “medical emergency.” The trigger ban permits abortions when a woman has a “life-threatening physical condition” and her pregnancy puts her “at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”
Under the second law, a doctor must provide “the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” unless doing so would put the woman at greater risk of death or serious injury.
Impact: Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and all other abortion facilities have ceased abortions in the Lone Star State.
One of Texas’ top abortion groups, Whole Woman’s Health, announced that it is shutting down all of its locations in the state and attempting to reopen in New Mexico.
UTAH – Ban throughout pregnancy (temporarily blocked)
Elective abortion became illegal in Utah following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, but a state judge quickly blocked enforcement of Utah’s trigger law.
The 2020 trigger ban went into effect on June 24, 2022, after the state legislature’s general counsel certified to the Legislative Management Committee that the Supreme Court had reversed Roe, Deseret News reported.
Three days later, Third District Court Judge Andrew Stone granted the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah a temporary restraining order blocking the law. He placed a longer preliminary injunction on the measure on July 11.
As of April 2023, the challenge to the law is ongoing.
Penalties: “Violating Utah’s trigger law is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. And any clinic or physician involved could lose their license,” KCPW reported.
Exceptions: The ban outlaws abortion at all stages of pregnancy with exemptions for cases of rape or incest reported to law enforcement, when necessary to save the mother’s life or to prevent “serious risk” of major, irreversible injury, or if two doctors who practice “maternal fetal medicine” conclude that the baby “has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal” or “a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.”
18-week ban: Another law banning abortion at 18 weeks took effect in late June after a federal judge dismissed an injunction placed on it in 2019, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
In March 2023, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a new pro-life law that prohibits licensing of abortion facilities in Utah. The law would effectively shut down all abortion centers in the state. Judge Stone temporarily blocked it in May.
WEST VIRGINIA – Ban throughout pregnancy
On September 13, 2022, the West Virginia legislature passed a bill, House Bill 302, that bans abortion at implantation with exceptions for rape, incest, when an unborn baby has a “lethal anomaly which renders it incompatible with life outside of the uterus,” and for “medical emergencies,” defined as when a medical condition would “necessitate an abortion to avert serious risk of the patient’s death or serious risk of substantial life-threatening physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.” It bans dismemberment abortions other than for medical emergencies.
Exceptions: The rape and incest exceptions end after eight weeks for adults and 14 weeks for minors and require a police report filed 48 hours before an abortion. Women seeking abortions for rape or incest must provide a notarized letter or a copy of a police report to receive an abortion.
Penalties: Under the law, licensed physicians can face discipline and lose their medical licenses for violations but cannot face criminal penalties for most abortions. Anyone else other than the mother who commits an illegal abortion, including medical professionals who aren’t physicians, can face felony charges and between three to 10 years in prison.
In effect: Gov Jim Justice signed the bill on September 16. It took effect immediately.
Abortion-free: West Virginia’s only abortion clinic halted abortions immediately after the legislature passed the new ban.
Pre-Roe law: In West Virginia, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a June memorandum that a pre-Roe ban criminalizing abortion throughout pregnancy is enforceable due to the Dobbs ruling.
Penalties: The pre-Roe law, West Virginia Code § 61-2-8, states that anyone who “administer to, or cause to be taken by, a woman, any drug or other thing, or use any means, with intent to destroy her unborn child, or to produce abortion or miscarriage, and shall thereby destroy such child, or produce such abortion or miscarriage” commits a felony punishable between three to 10 years in prison, according to Morrisey.
The law “covers persons who perform abortions and, at least arguably, women who seek them,” the attorney general noted.
Exceptions: It permits actions “done in good faith, with the intention of saving the life of such woman or child” and adds that “intent is an integral part of the crime of abortion.”
No abortion ‘right’: A constitutional amendment approved by West Virginia voters in 2018 affirms that the West Virginia Constitution does not include a “right to abortion.”
WISCONSIN – Ban throughout pregnancy
A pre-Roe ban in Wisconsin has taken effect, criminalizing the murder of unborn babies from conception except when “necessary to save the life of the mother” according to at least two physicians.
Democrats won’t enforce: Wisconsin Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and some local Democratic officials have pledged that they will not enforce it. Kaul and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers have sued to block the law.
Impact: Abortion mills have still stopped killing pre-born babies in the state.
Republicans control the Wisconsin legislature, but Evers, who has pledged to give illegal abortionists clemency, and Kaul won re-election in the 2022 midterms. Liberals also won a majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in April 2023, putting the state’s pro-life law in jeopardy.
WYOMING – Ban throughout pregnancy (temporarily blocked)
Wyoming enacted a ban on elective abortion in March 2023 when Republican Gov. Mark Gordon allowed the measure, the “Life is a Human Right Act,” to become law without his signature.
Penalties: Committing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy can result in felony charges, up to 5 years in prison, and up to $20,000 in fines. The state board of medicine must revoke the licenses of medical professionals who intentionally violate the law and may impose fines of up to $5,000 and other disciplinary measures for violations. Women who undergo abortions can sue people who violate the law for $10,000 per violation.
Exceptions: For sexual assault and incest reported to law enforcement; when “necessary in the physician’s reasonable medical judgment to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” prior to fetal viability or to prevent “substantial risk of death” due to a physical condition or “serious and permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ”; and when an unborn baby has a “lethal fetal anomaly” in “the physician’s reasonable medical judgment.”
Physicians must make “all reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances” to preserve an unborn baby’s life before committing an abortion allegedly to preserve the mother’s life or health.
Teton County District Court Judge Melissa Owens temporarily blocked the Life is a Human Right Act days after it took effect.
An older trigger law enacted by Wyoming in 2022 went into effect on July 27 of that year before also being blocked by Owens. Litigation regarding that law is ongoing.
Gov. Gordon signed another law in March 2023 that makes it a felony to sell, prescribe, or use “any drug for the purpose of procuring or performing an abortion.” It takes effect on July 1.
States where pro-life laws may take effect soon
IOWA – Ban at around six weeks
Iowa has enacted a heartbeat law that could take effect following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling. Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynold announced that she would ask Iowa courts to let the state enforce the law.
Republicans control the state government and may advance additional pro-life protections.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in June 2022 that the state constitution does not guarantee a “fundamental right” to abortion. The decision overturned a pro-abortion decision from 2018 and will give lawmakers greater ability to restrict the murderous practice, though the court has not yet said what the standard should be, the Des Moines Register reported. Five of the current seven justices were appointed by Gov. Reynolds, and all of the seven were appointed by Republicans.
The Iowa Supreme Court heard arguments over the heartbeat law in April 2023.
A previously blocked 24-hour waiting period requirement in Iowa is in effect as of July 2022.
NORTH CAROLINA – 12-week ban
North Carolina Republicans enacted a ban on abortion at 12 weeks and a package of other abortion restrictions in May 2023.
The law, Senate Bill 20, which also bans mailing abortion pills and requires multiple in-person visits for abortions, is set to take effect on July 1. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation, but Republicans overrode his veto weeks after securing a narrow supermajority in the state legislature in April.
Republicans retook majority control of the North Carolina Supreme Court in the 2022 midterms, increasing the likelihood that pro-life measures will survive legal challenges in the state.
Other states to watch
Some other Republican-led states may enact new pro-life protections after Dobbs:
VIRGINIA: Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has said he will seek to tighten Virginia’s abortion limit from around 26 weeks to 15 weeks, by which time babies in the womb feel pain. Republicans control the Virginia House, but Democrats narrowly control the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw has pledged that Democrats will kill any pro-life bills.
Virginia Senate elections are in November 2023, and Republicans need to flip two seats to retake the chamber.
Youngkin said after the reversal of Roe that he would sign “any bill … to protect life” that makes it to his desk.
KANSAS: August 2022, Kansas voters rejected an amendment that would have changed the state constitution to declare that it does not include a “right” to abortion and allow lawmakers to pass stronger pro-life protections. The state supreme court invented a “right” to abortion in the Kansas Constitution in 2019. Abortion is currently legal on demand up to 22 weeks in the state.
Republicans have a supermajority in the Kansas legislature, but pro-abortion Democratic Gov. Laura Kelley won re-election in November. The state will remain an abortion haven until the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision is reversed.
In 2023, Republican lawmakers enacted pro-life laws to protect babies from infanticide, prohibit abortionists from obtaining liability insurance through a state fund, and require women seeking abortions to be informed about the abortion pill reversal method.
Which states protect abortion?
Around 20 other states have pro-abortion laws and/or constitutional amendments in place and are unlikely to reverse them in the near future: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C.
None of those states prohibits elective abortion before 24 weeks, and many of them have already enacted extreme new polices to promote abortion further, including to out-of-state women.
Alaska, Colorado, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., have no gestational limits on abortion at all.
Pennsylvania and New Hampshire do not explicitly protect abortion but are unlikely to advance new restrictions due to pro-abortion state leaders.
Conservatives have made renewed calls for abortion restrictions in Alaska, which has had extremely lax abortion laws for decades despite the state’s conservative leanings. But the Alaska Supreme Court invented a “right” to abortion in the state constitution in 1997, and control of Alaska’s legislature is currently split between Republicans and Democrats. Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is pro-life.
In Michigan, voters approved an amendment in November to enshrine a “right” to abortion in the state constitution. The radical amendment allows abortion up to the moment of birth for a woman’s “mental health,” in addition to several other radical provisions, including making “infertility care,” such as in vitro fertilization, a “fundamental right” and creating constitutional protections for sterilization procedures, including transgender surgeries for minors.
California and Vermont voters approved similarly extreme pro-abortion amendments in the 2022 midterms.