These 13 states have abortion ‘trigger laws’ — here’s what that means

·3 min read

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the impact would be felt right away in some states.

The fate of the 1973 case that secured the right to abortion has come into question after a leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico indicated that the nation’s highest court could overturn the landmark decision.

While the draft, whose authenticity was confirmed by the Supreme Court Tuesday, does not necessarily reflect the justices’ final vote and decision in the matter, it has sparked demonstrations across the country and put a spotlight on what would happen if rules about abortion access were to fall solely to each individual state.

Legislators in 13 states have already prepared for the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned with the passage of so-called trigger laws, which would automatically restrict abortions almost immediately within those states with few exceptions.

Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming all have such laws on the books.

Some of these laws have been in place for more than 15 years, like South Dakota’s 2005 trigger ban, which would make it illegal to perform abortions except when life-threatening risks are present, while others are recent additions, such as the similar bill signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt last month.

Stitt signed another abortion-related law Tuesday that doesn’t depend on the Supreme Court's ruling, banning the procedure in the state after just six weeks of pregnancy. That came following a recent increase in restrictive abortion laws in several Republican-led states.

But while many states are poised to take quick action if the era of Roe v. Wade ends, others have laws in place to protect abortion access as it currently stands.

Right now, 16 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia have passed laws codifying the right to abortion.

While 12 of those states ensure the right prior to fetal viability, according to information compiled by The Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia "have codified the right to abortion throughout pregnancy without state interference."

And a recent bill passed in Connecticut has additionally expanded the list of medical professionals allowed to perform the procedure in that state.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s eventual decision in the case that's currently challenging Roe v. Wade, the leaked draft opinion has already done more than inspire demonstrations. It has also led to a flurry of responses from advocacy groups on both sides of the issue.

“This leaked opinion is horrifying and unprecedented, and it confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade,” the president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Alexis McGill Johnson, said in a statement.

Meanwhile Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports ending abortion, said the organization would “wholeheartedly applaud the decision” if the draft turns out to be the final opinion of the court.