11 states have ‘trigger’ laws that would automatically outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Abortion protest supreme court
In this Wednesday, March 4, 2020 file photo, abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin File
  • Eleven states have “trigger” laws that would ban nearly all abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
  • A Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy took effect on Wednesday.
  • The Supreme Court is due to consider a major abortion case that could upend Roe v. Wade.
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There are currently 11 US states with so-called trigger laws that would ban all or nearly all abortions if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah all have post-Roe laws that would immediately take effect if Roe falls, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion organization that compiles data on reproductive health.

Texas’ trigger law took effect on Wednesday. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law on May 19, considered to be the nation’s most restrictive. It bans abortions after six weeks – with no exception for rape or incest – despite many people being unaware they are pregnant at that time.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined a request from abortion providers to block the Texas law.

In a 5-4 vote, Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas overruled the dissenting votes cast by Justices John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

The court’s majority argued in an unsigned opinion that the ruling was a technical one and not based on the substance of the law, which could still be legally challenged.

“In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts,” the justices wrote.

The court’s order could potentially spark a wave of Republican-led states enacting similar restrictions that threaten access to abortion.

President Joe Biden on Thursday called the Supreme Court’s decision “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.”

The Supreme Court is due to consider the constitutionality of abortion this fall in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerns a Mississippi law that would ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Center for Reproductive Rights estimates that 34 states and five territories could cease to protect abortion rights if Roe is overturned.