States with laws still on the books that would ban abortion
President Donald Trump’s appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has raised the prospect that a new conservative court majority might consider overturning or weakening the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a nationwide right to abortion.
Four states — Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota — already have laws designed to prohibit most abortions if the Roe ruling were overturned.
Several other states have laws adopted before the Roe ruling that ban many abortions and that have not been removed from their statutes. It’s unclear whether those laws automatically would take effect if the Roe precedent were overturned. Some state courts also have ruled that abortion rights are protected under their state’s constitution.
Here’s a look at some states with old abortion laws still on the books or with newer laws that could be triggered if Roe were reversed:
ALABAMA: Imposes fines up to $1,000 and jail terms of up to a year for those who “induce an abortion, miscarriage or premature delivery” unless necessary to preserve the life or health of a woman. Though updated over time, the abortion ban dates to 1852.
ARIZONA: Imposes prison sentences of two to five years for those who “procure the miscarriage” of a woman unless necessary to save her life. The abortion ban has been in the statutes since at least 1956.
ARKANSAS: Makes it illegal to provide any drug with the “intent to produce an abortion” or to “attempt to produce the abortion by any other means.” The ban dates to a 1969 law, which had updated an 1875 abortion ban.
LOUISIANA: A 2006 law makes it a crime to cause “the termination of the life of an unborn human being.” It creates an exception for abortions performed by a physician to prevent the death or “serious, permanent impairment of a life-sustaining organ” of a pregnant woman. Violations are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of between $10,000 and $100,000. The law is to take effect only upon a U.S. Supreme Court decision that partly or fully reverses Roe v. Wade and restores the state’s authority to prohibit abortions.
MASSACHUSETTS: Imposes sentences of up to seven years in prison and fines up to $2,000 for providing any “noxious thing” or using an instrument with the “intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman.” The abortion ban dates to 1845.
MICHIGAN: Makes it a felony to use an instrument or administer any substance with the intent “to procure the miscarriage” of a woman unless necessary to preserve her life. The abortion ban dates to a 1931 law.
MISSISSIPPI: A 2007 law prohibits all abortions except when necessary to preserve a woman’s life or in cases of rape. Violations are punishable by imprisonment of one to 10 years. The law is to take effect after the state attorney general determines that the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade and that it is “reasonably probable” the law would be upheld in court.
NEW MEXICO: Makes it a crime to terminate or attempt to terminate a pregnancy unless conducted by a physician in a hospital when the pregnancy is likely to lead to the woman’s death or “the grave impairment” of her “physical or mental health,” or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if “the child probably will have a grave physical or mental defect.” The statute dates to at least 1972.
NORTH DAKOTA: A 2007 law makes it a felony to perform an abortion unless necessary to prevent the woman’s death or in cases of rape or incest. Violations are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The law is to take effect when the legislative council approves a motion recommended by the attorney general that it is “reasonably probable” the law would be upheld as constitutional.
OKLAHOMA: Imposes prison sentences of two to five years for using any means intended “to procure the miscarriage” of a woman unless necessary to preserve her life. Though updated over time, the laws date to 1910.
RHODE ISLAND: A 1973 law, enacted just a couple of months after the Roe ruling, imposes prison sentences of one to seven years for using an instrument or providing a “noxious thing” with the “intent to procure the miscarriage of any pregnant woman,” unless necessary to preserve her life.
SOUTH DAKOTA: A 2005 law makes it a felony to use an instrument or provide any substance intended “to procure an abortion” unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life. Violations are punishable by up to two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. The law is to take effect when the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the authority of states “to regulate or prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.”
WEST VIRGINIA: Imposes prison sentences of three to 10 years for using any means on a woman intended to “destroy her unborn child or to produce abortion or miscarriage,” unless done to save the woman’s life. The law dates to 1882.
WISCONSIN: Creates a felony for anyone other than the pregnant woman “who intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child,” unless performed by a physician when necessary to save the woman’s life. Though the law has changed over time, the abortion ban dates to at least 1849.