It has been almost one year since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that abortion was no longer constitutionally protected. Since then, abortion access has become spotty throughout the country. It can be difficult to stay abreast with what has been happening, so here is the latest.
Let’s first start with the bad news:
- In Nebraska, a 12-week abortion ban and a gender-affirming care ban for minors was passed at the end of May. The ACLU of Nebraska has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of these draconian bans. It is important to underscore that such restrictions are rooted in religious ideology, not in evidence-based medicine.
- A 12-week abortion ban will go into effect in North Carolina on July 1. Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed the bill, explaining that the law would erode reproductive rights in the state. Nevertheless, the state’s Assembly voted to override the veto.
- In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law a six-week abortion ban that went into effect immediately. However, it has been temporarily blocked till the state Supreme Court determines its constitutionality. While abortion remains temporarily available up until 22 weeks of gestation in South Carolina, the relentless attack on abortion rights in the Carolinas is dehumanizing and almost completely erodes access in the South.
- Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court is getting closer to ruling over the constitutionality of a 15-week abortion ban. If the court upholds the right of the legislature to end this ban, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ newest six-week abortion ban will go into effect. A recently installed billboard outside the Orlando airport warns travelers that reproductive rights and trans rights have been eroded in Florida. Unsurprisingly, DeSantis is reluctant to discuss his six-week abortion ban on his presidential campaign trail because he knows that abortion bans are overwhelmingly unpopular across all demographics. Meanwhile, Floridians are planning a ballot measure to restore abortion in the Sunshine State.
- Speaking of voters, a special election in Ohio this August could thwart abortion in the future. After first banning August elections, Ohio Republicans have scheduled an election for the month that would increase the threshold of support for constitutional amendments from a majority to 60 percent. A leaked letter from state Rep. Brian Stewart reveals that the measure is intended to sabotage the pro-choice abortion initiative. This is an anti-democratic power grab intended to deceive voters.
- In the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s home state of Wisconsin, anti-abortion lawmakers have introduced a bill that specifies medical procedures not qualifying as abortions under the current 1849 anti-abortion law. Meanwhile, a county court is expected to soon rule on the legality of the pre-Civil War abortion ban, although the case is ultimately headed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
- In Nevada, Gov. Joe Lombardo signed abortion protections that would prohibit state agencies from conducting or participating in investigations related to out-of-state abortions. This is an especially important development for people in surrounding states, such as Idaho, Utah and Arizona, where abortion is banned or restricted. The law also protects abortion providers from punishment or discrimination by medical licensing boards. Similarly, Connecticut lawmakers in the House have passed a bill that would protect abortion providers from out-of-state prosecutors.
- A Montana judge recently blocked several anti-abortion laws from going into effect. These laws would have required ultrasounds before abortions and prior authorization for “medically unnecessary” abortions covered by Medicaid. They also would have effectively banned second-trimester abortions. Meanwhile, abortion continues to be legal in Montana.
- In Illinois, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow people to sue anti-abortion centers, otherwise known as crisis pregnancy centers, for providing them with disinformation. This is a major step, especially since anti-abortion centers are largely funded by Christian nationalist groups and use deceptive practices to dissuade people from choosing an abortion. The bill would also allow the Illinois attorney general’s office to investigate anti-abortion centers.
- In Rhode Island, Gov. Daniel McKee signed a bill that would fund abortion coverage for state workers and those who receive Medicaid. Since abortion can cost well into the thousands of dollars, this is especially helpful for those who already face substantial barriers to health care.