Here are the U.S. states rushing to limit abortion access in 2019

Here are the U.S. states rushing to limit abortion access in 2019
Just as Alabama voted on a near total-ban abortion earlier this week, Missouri passed a controversial bill that would dramatically limit the procedure, joining waves of other states moving towards stricter abortion laws.

Abortion is still currently legal in all 50 states, but many legislatures have recently passed abortion laws aimed at setting up a constitutional fight over Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that gave Americans the right to obtain an abortion.

“What I’m trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned,” Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins told the Washington Post shortly after her state passed a law that effectively outlaws abortion.


At least six other states have recently passed so-called heartbeat bills that ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is often when doctors first begin detecting a fetal heartbeat. Similar bans are currently being proposed in other states including Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.


Most other states follow the standard set Roe decision, which says abortion is legal until the fetus reaches viability around the 24 to 28 weeks mark.

Here is a look at how limits on abortion are changing across the United States:

Alabama: On Tuesday, legislators passed a bill banning abortions with few exceptions that include “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother” or if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”

The law — the most restrictive in the U.S. — calls for doctors who perform abortions to be treated as felons and face up to 99 years in prison. It does not include an exception for cases of rape or incest.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law Wednesday and said it stands as a “powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply-held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”

“The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur,” Ivey said.

Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, center, signs legislation in Atlanta, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks before many women know they’re pregnant.

(Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill last week that would ban abortions after six weeks, dramatically limiting the window for women to undergo abortion procedures, which currently sits at 20 weeks.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will challenge the new law, which would take effect on January 1, 2020, in court.

“Bans like this have always been blocked by courts,” chief counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, Elisabeth Smith said in a statement. “We will be suing Georgia to make sure this law has the same fate.”

Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine signed a heartbeat bill in April, one day after the state House and Senate passed the law.

On Wednesday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the ban, which was slated to come into effect in July 2019.

“This legislation is blatantly unconstitutional and we will fight to the bitter end to ensure that this bill is permanently blocked,” said Freda Levenson, legal director at the ACLU of Ohio.

The ACLU estimated the law would prohibit 90 per cent of abortions performed in the state and is arguing that the law violates women’s right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Similar legislation was vetoed twice by former Gov. John Kasich before he left office.

Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant signed a “heartbeat” bill in March to ban nearly all abortions around the five- to six-week mark.

The bill included an exception in cases to prevent a woman’s death or her serious risk of impairment.

“The heartbeat has been the universal hallmark of life since man’s very beginning,” Bryant said in an address before signing the bill.

Mississippi, which currently only has one abortion clinic, saw a federal judge strike down a ban after 15 weeks.

The law set to take effect July 2019 is being challenged in court by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Kentucky and Iowa: Both states signed or passed “heartbeat” legislation but had the bills struck down by federal judges as they may be “unconstitutional.”

Both states are expected to see lengthy court battles over the ban.

“We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade — 100 per cent,” Iowa Republican state senator Rick Bertand told Reuters earlier this year .

Utah and Arkansas: Both voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester or 18 weeks.

Some states have also passed so-called “trigger” laws, which would automatically ban abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned. Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas passed trigger laws this year, while Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota had already passed similar legislation

Florida: Considering two abortion bills, one after the 20th week of pregnancy and the second is a fetal heartbeat bill.

Louisiana: Fetal heartbeat bill passed House and Senate committees this week and is expected to go back to the House for a second reading.

South Carolina: Passed the state House in April and was introduced in the state senate.

West Virginia: Fetal heartbeat bill introduced earlier this year.

Missouri: Heartbeat bill has passed the state senate and is heading to the Republican-controlled House. Currently the state has only one abortion clinic .

New York: Passed a law last January that protects “the fundamental right” to abortion. The bill would allow for abortions to be performed after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus is not viable or when necessary to protect the mother’s life.

Vermont: The state legislature passed a proposal to amend the state constitution to guarantee the right to an abortion. The bill would need to pass again next year next year, and voters would need to approve it in a 2022 referendum before it becomes law.
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