• Wed. Mar 29th, 2023


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What Are Trigger Laws and Which States Have Them?

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it would not outlaw abortion. Instead, states would be able to individually determine the procedure’s legality.

Thirteen states across the country have signaled their readiness to ban abortion by passing so-called trigger laws, which would effectively ban abortions almost immediately after a decision from the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Some states that are very strongly anti-abortion, having been frustrated that they couldn’t ban abortion because of Roe v. Wade, decided to pass laws that would be on the books and operative immediately in the future event that the court ever removed the protections of Roe,” said Donna Crane, an adjunct professor at San José State University with an expertise in women’s rights and reproductive rights.

These are the 13 states that have passed trigger laws and what those laws entail:

In Arkansas, a trigger law would ban almost all abortions, with an exception for saving the “life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.” Performing an abortion, or attempting to perform one, could lead to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $100,000.

A trigger law in Idaho would make providing an abortion punishable by up to five years in prison. Exemptions would be made in the event that an abortion is performed to prevent a pregnant woman from dying, or in cases of rape or incest.

Kentucky passed a bill in 2019 that would ban abortions and make them a felony. Preventing an injury or death of a pregnant woman would be exceptions to the law.

A law in Louisiana would ban anyone from performing an abortion or providing a woman with drugs that could cause an abortion. The state would allow an abortion to prevent serious injury or death, but the law says a “physician shall make reasonable medical efforts” to save the life of the mother and the unborn child.

In Mississippi, a law would require that the state’s attorney general first confirm that Roe v. Wade has been overturned by the Supreme Court before abortions are prohibited. Saving the life of a mother or cases of rape are exceptions for an abortion.

A law in Missouri would make it a felony to perform an abortion except in the event of a medical emergency.

North Dakota has a similar law to the one in Missouri, which would make performing an abortion a felony unless it is done to save the life of a mother.

A bill in Oklahoma would make abortions illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a $100,000 fine, unless the abortion would save the life of a pregnant woman.

In South Dakota, a law bans anyone from performing an abortion or providing a woman with drugs that could cause one.

A bill in Tennessee would ban abortions in the state 30 days after the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. Exceptions are allowed to prevent the death or serious injury of a pregnant woman.

In Texas, a law would ban abortions 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. An abortion would be allowed to prevent a pregnant woman from dying or from a serious injury.

A law in Utah would ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, with exceptions for preventing death or serious injury, cases of rape or incest, or the possibility of severe birth defects.

In Wyoming, a law would ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The state would allow exceptions in cases of rape or sexual assault, or to prevent the death or “substantial and irreversible” injury of a pregnant woman.

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