What will happen now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned

·Senior Writer
·7 min read

The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade precedent will affect the ability of millions of Americans to access abortion.

In a ruling released Friday morning, the court’s Republican-appointed justices overturned Roe in deciding the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which addressed a restrictive Mississippi abortion law. The decision had been expected since May, when a draft of the ruling was leaked.

The court’s three liberal justices opposed the decision, writing, “With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”

Protesters outside the Supreme Court.
Protesters outside the Supreme Court on Friday. (Steve Helber/AP)

According to tracking by the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion now that Roe has been overturned. The decision goes against the wishes of a majority of Americans and comes with the public expressing record-low approval of and confidence in the court.

The bans come from different avenues: Some states have so-called trigger laws that take effect and outlaw abortion with the repeal of Roe; some states have pre-Roe laws that are still on the books; some have six-week bans (meaning the procedure would become illegal for many women before they even know they’re pregnant) currently held up in court; and some states have governments likely to pass anti-abortion measures. A number of states have more than one of these measures.

Some of the trigger laws have been in effect for over a decade, but others were passed during former President Donald Trump’s time in office as he appointed justices that Republicans hoped would overturn Roe. The states with existing trigger laws are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Many of these do not provide exceptions for pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest. Nearly all of the laws are enforced by prosecuting the medical professionals who provide the abortion. The Texas trigger law passed last year is set to go into effect 30 days from Roe being overturned and would make performing an abortion a felony, with the only exception being a “substantial impairment” of the mother’s “major bodily function.”

Abortion rights advocates outside of the Austin Convention Center in Texas.
Abortion rights advocates outside of the Austin Convention Center in Texas on May 14 during former President Donald Trump’s American Freedom Tour. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

In May, following the leak of the draft opinion, Oklahoma passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, banning nearly all abortions starting at fertilization. The law allows exceptions for the health of the mother and in cases of rape or incest if they have been reported to law enforcement.

“From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother,” Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said after signing the bill into law. “If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life.”

While South Dakota already has a trigger law on the books that would ban abortions except when the life of the mother is in danger, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem announced Friday that she would be calling a special session of the Legislature to “ensure that abortion is not only illegal in South Dakota — it is unthinkable.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons, a Republican, signed a proclamation Friday morning activating the state’s trigger law and effectively ending abortion in the state, including an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

“Thanks to decades of conservative leaders, Missouri has become one of the most pro-life states in the nation, and our Administration has always fought for the life of every unborn child,” Parsons said in a statement. “Today, our efforts have produced what generations of Missourians have worked and prayed for: Today, we have won our fight to protect innocent life.”

The states that have pre-Roe laws banning abortion that would come back into effect are Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed suit in an attempt to overturn the 1931 law banning abortion. Under that legislation, exceptions are made for the health of the mother but not for rape or incest. A judge ruled in May that the ban will not go into effect until legal challenges against it have been completed, although the Republican-controlled Legislature is opposing that decision.

“No matter what happens to Roe, I am going to fight like hell and use all the tools I have as governor to ensure reproductive freedom is protected,” Whitmer said in April. “Today in court, I represent all those who deserve the freedom to choose their own future. That’s a fight worth having.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, also a Democrat, pushed a bill earlier this year to repeal a nearly two-centuries-old ban, but it had little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Legislature. Evers had vetoed a number of Republican-passed anti-abortion measures in late 2021.

“Governor Evers made his position clear today that a life not wanted is a life worth wasting,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, a Republican, said in a statement following the vetoes.

Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and South Carolina all have six-week bans set to go into effect. Texas is the only state with a six-week ban, enacted last year and allowed to stand by both state and federal courts. Idaho passed a similar law this spring, but it is currently being held up in court.

Abortion rights activists outside the state Capitol in Atlanta.
Abortion rights activists outside the state Capitol in Atlanta on May 14. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images)

The Guttmacher Institute predicts that four other states with Republican-controlled state governments — Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska — would likely pass laws further limiting abortion access now that Roe has been overturned. Kansas voters will have the opportunity in August to amend their state constitution to say it doesn’t promise access to abortion. The procedure is currently protected there by a 2019 ruling from the state supreme court that found the constitution included a right to an abortion.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws protecting the right to abortion. While GOP-led states have passed a number of restrictions, this year Democratic-controlled states have expanded access. In response to the leaked ruling, California’s Democratic leaders said they hoped to enshrine access to abortion in the state’s constitution, which would require voter approval.

Virginia currently has legal abortion with some restrictions, but Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued a statement praising the Supreme Court’s ruling and saying he wanted the Legislature to consider tighter laws during next year’s session.

“I’m proud to be a pro-life Governor and plan to take every action I can to protect life,” Youngkin said, stating that Virginians “want fewer abortions” and that “we can build a bipartisan consensus on protecting the life of unborn children.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Roe being overturned means the number of women of reproductive age (15-49) whose nearest provider would be in California would increase from 46,000 to 1.4 million. In Oregon, funding has been set aside for those traveling from out of state for the procedure. A number of states, including Washington, have enacted laws prohibiting legal action against those seeking or providing an abortion.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a law in April codifying the right to abortion, saying, “Colorado has been, is and will be a pro-choice state. ... No matter what the Supreme Court does in the future, people in Colorado will be able to choose when and if they have children.”

Democrats in the Maryland Legislature also recently overruled a veto from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in order to expand abortion access and require most insurance companies to cover the entire cost of the procedure.