Abortion laws: What are the regulations in each US state?

Victoria Gagliardo-Silver

There has been a recent uptick in legislative attempts to restrict abortion access in America, a medical practice which many consider a human right.

Exemplified by increasing numbers of so-called 'heartbeat bills' and Alabama’s all-out ban designed to challenge Roe v Wade, there has been a turn in state initiatives towards restricting abortion access to “protect life”.

In the wake of abortion rights being challenged by Republicans in America, The Independent has compiled a list detailing up to what point in a pregnancy selective abortion is available in all 50 US states and Washington DC.

Despite these initiatives to restrict pregnancy termination, abortion currently remains legal in all 50 states until the point in pregnancy detailed below:

Alabama: 20 weeks

Current law: Allows for abortion up to 20 weeks in all cases, allows beyond 20 weeks for rape, incest, or health of the mother.

Proposed changes: Governor Kay Ivey has signed the Human Life Protection Act aiming to criminalise abortion provision as a class A felony. The act fails to provide exceptions for rape and incest. Lawmakers hope it will end up in the Supreme Court. The HLPA has not criminalised abortion provision yet, it is slated to become enforceable law in six months. Until then, Alabama’s three abortion clinics will remain active.

Alaska: No gestational limits on abortion

Arizona: Viability (A term used in United States constitutional law since Roe v Wade, referring to the potential of the foetus to survive outside the uterus after birth, natural or induced, when supported by up-to-date medicine)

Current law: Allows for abortion up to the second trimester, without exceptions for rape or incest, but with exceptions for the physical health of the pregnant person. Selective abortion beyond the first trimester is a criminal act. Abortion seekers must attend a mandatory counselling session 24 hours before they are permitted to get an abortion.

Proposed changes: State Representative Walter Blackman, in response to the Alabama abortion ban, suggested changing abortion policy in ‘increments’. Blackman suggested a mandatory 48 hour waiting period and parental notification for minors, and noted he’d consider exceptions for rape and incest in a ban.

Arkansas: 20 weeks

California: Viability

Colorado: No gestational limits on abortion

Connecticut: Viability

Delaware: Viability

Current law: Selective abortion until viability, post-viability abortion in cases of foetal abnormalities and the health of the pregnant person. Parental notice mandatory if the abortion seeker is under 16 with no exceptions for rape, incest, or child abuse.

Proposed changes: Republican state lawmakers have presented two bills, one banning abortions after 20 weeks, and another bill where physicians would be required to offer an abortion seeker the opportunity to see their ultrasound and hear a fetal heartbeat. These bills have yet to make it to a floor vote in the Democrat controlled house.

Washington, DC: No gestational limits on abortion

Florida: 24 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 24 weeks, abortion available in the third trimester with two physicians noting in writing that carrying or delivering the foetus will bring the pregnant person serious physical harm or risk their life. State mandated information must be provided to abortion seekers, 24 hour waiting period between information sessions and abortion provision. Parental notice to those under 18.

Proposed changes: Republican state lawmakers introduced a foetal heartbeat bill in February but the bill failed. Representative Mike Hill plans to reintroduce the bill after removing exceptions for rape and incest

Georgia: 20 weeks (until July 10, 2019, then 6 weeks)

Current law: Selective abortion up to 20 weeks, abortion after 20 weeks is a criminal act except for if performed for the health or life of the pregnant person. No exceptions are made in the case of rape or incest. There is a 24 hour waiting period between mandatory counseling and abortion provision, and a parent must be notified if the abortion seeker is under 18, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Proposed changes: Governor Brian Kemp, an anti-choice Republican, signed a heartbeat bill (six week abortion ban) into law, slated to take effect on July 10th, 2019. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to block the law from being enforced.

Hawaii: Viability

Idaho: 20 weeks

Illinois: Viability

Current law: Selective abortion until viability, post-viability abortion to preserve the pregnant person’s health or life. For minors, parents must be notified of their child’s abortion 48 hours before the procedure, with exceptions for incest and abuse.

Proposed changes: The Reproductive Health Act is heading to the state legislature to protect abortion choice. Heartbeat bill legislation is also headed to the capitol to be debated.

Indiana: 20 weeks.

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks, post-viability abortion for the health and life of the pregnant person with two physicians attending. Mandated counseling 18 hours before abortion provision. For minors, a parent must offer written consent before abortion provision.

Proposed changes: In January of 2019, Indiana banned dilation and evacuation abortion provision, a common method for second trimester abortions. No other proposed changes at this time.

Iowa: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks, post-viability abortion for the health and life of the pregnant person, no exceptions for rape or incest. Prior to the procedure, must be offered to view an ultrasound or hear a heartbeat. Parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

Proposed changes: In spring of 2018, lawmakers passed a heartbeat bill, but the law was blocked permanently as it was unconstitutional. It is currently making its way through the courts.

Kansas: 20 weeks

Kentucky: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks or viability, post-viability abortion for the health and life of the pregnant person. Mandated counselling 24 hours before abortion provision. Written consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: No proposed changes yet, but Governor Matt Bevin supports anti-abortion legislation.

Louisiana: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks or viability, post-viability abortion for the health and life of the pregnant person with two physicians in attendance. No exceptions for rape or incest. Mandated counselling 24 hours before abortion provision. Written consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: There are two tentative laws restricting abortion: one which bans abortion in near entirety if Roe v Wade is overturned, and another that bans abortion at 15 weeks without reasonable exceptions that will go into effect if Mississippi’s similar ban is deemed constitutional. A 6 week heartbeat bill is heading to the Democratic governor who has vowed to sign the measure.

Maine: Viability

Maryland: Viability

Massachusetts: 24 weeks

Michigan: Viability

Current Law: Selective abortion until viability, post-viability exceptions for the life and health of the pregnant person. Mandated counseling 24 hours before abortion provision. Consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: In May of 2019, Michigan state lawmakers introduced a bill to ban dilation and evacuation abortion provision, a common method for second trimester abortions. No other proposed changes at this time.

Minnesota: Viability

Mississippi: 20 weeks

Current Law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks, post-20 week abortion for the life or health of the pregnant person with exceptions for rape or incest. Dilation and evacuation abortions, a common and safe method of second trimester abortion provision, are banned. Mandated counseling 24 hours before abortion provision. Consent in writing from both parents if the abortion seeker is a minor prior to abortion provision.

Proposed changes: Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a six-week abortion bill into law in March with exceptions for the health and life of the pregnant person but none for rape or incest.

Missouri: Viability

Current Law: Selective abortion until viability, post-viability abortion for the health and life of the pregnant person with a second physician attending. Mandated counseling 72 hours before abortion provision. Consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: Republican-lead state house and senate passed an 8-week abortion ban, which has yet to be signed into law, but Governor Mike Parson has indicated his support for the measure.

Montana: Viability

Nebraska: 20 weeks

Nevada: 24 weeks

New Hampshire: No gestational limits on abortion

New Jersey: No gestational limits on abortion

New Mexico: No gestational limits on abortion

New York: 24 weeks

North Carolina: 20 weeks

North Dakota: 20 weeks

Ohio: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks, post-20 week abortion for the life or health of the pregnant person if two physicians write that abortion is necessary. Dilation and evacuation abortions, a common and safe method of second trimester abortion provision, are banned. Mandated counselling 24 hours before abortion provision. Consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: In April of 2019, Ohio governor Mike DeWine signed a foetal heartbeat bill limiting selective abortion to five weeks, or one week after a missed menstrual cycle, at which point many women do not realise they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Oklahoma: 20 weeks

Oregon: No gestational limits on abortion

Pennsylvania: 24 weeks

Rhode Island: 24 weeks

South Carolina: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 24 weeks, post-24 week abortion for the life or health of the pregnant person if two physicians certify in writing that abortion is necessary. Mandated counselling 24 hours before abortion provision. Consent from one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: A foetal heartbeat bill passed in the state house, but may not make it to the state senate until 2020.

South Dakota: 20 weeks

Tennessee: Viability

Texas: 20 weeks

Utah: Viability

Vermont: No gestational limits on abortion

Virginia: 27 weeks

Washington: Viability

West Virginia: 20 weeks

Current law: Selective abortion until 20 weeks, post-20 week abortion for the life or health of the pregnant person. Dilation and evacuation abortions, a common and safe method of second trimester abortion provision, are banned. Mandated counselling 24 hours before abortion provision. Notice of one parent if the abortion seeker is a minor.

Proposed changes: A heartbeat bill was introduced in February with exceptions for rape and incest, but has yet to be voted on.

Wisconsin: 20 weeks

Wyoming: Viability