(Trends Wide) — Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, access to abortion rests in the hands of state legislatures. This opens multiple questions, including which states will guarantee the right and which will not.
An analysis by the Guttmacher Institute before the court’s decision found that 23 states have laws in place to limit abortion, including 13 with bans designed to take effect almost immediately after what was then a possibility — repeal. of the ruling Roe v. Wade—and that they would do away with abortion virtually entirely.
In contrast, there are 16 US states that protect access to abortion under state law, either guaranteeing the right to terminate a pregnancy to a certain extent or ––just four states and the city of Washington–– protecting the right at any stage of gestation, according to Guttmacher.
Following the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft of this case in May, some state officials reinforced their commitment to providing a safe place for those seeking abortions. And they are also bracing for a possible influx of people from neighboring states with restrictive abortion laws.
“For anyone who needs access to care, our state will welcome them with open arms,” New York’s Democratic governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement after the draft was released. “New York will always be a place where right to abortion is protected and where abortion is safe and accessible.
These are the states with laws in place that would protect the right to abortion after the Roe v. Wade.
The right to obtain an abortion in California is protected until the fetus is considered viable and in cases where the procedure is necessary to save the life or health of the patient, according to the state’s Health and Safety Code.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed legislation in March that removes some financial barriers to abortion services. Under the law, insurance providers or health insurance plans are prohibited from requiring cost-sharing payments, such as deductibles, coinsurance, or co-payments for abortion or related care. The law will apply to plans issued after January 1, 2023. For patients with high-deductible plans, they will need to meet their deductible before the cost-sharing ban applies.
Jared Polis, the Democratic governor of Colorado, signed legislation in April that guarantees a pregnant person’s right “to have an abortion and make decisions about how to exercise that right.” The measure prohibits public entities from depriving people of that guarantee. The rule does not define a time or stage of pregnancy after which abortions can no longer be performed.
The law also states that “a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no independent or derivative rights” under state law.
Connecticut law protects the right to receive an abortion until the fetus is viable. After that point, the procedure is only allowed to safeguard the life or health of the pregnant person. Minors under the age of 16 must be counseled before consenting to an abortion, except in the case of a medical emergency.
Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont also recently signed legislation designed to protect medical providers who perform abortions and out-of-state patients who travel to Connecticut for the procedure from lawsuits. The measure in part prevents state agencies from collaborating in interstate investigations or prosecutions that would hold someone civilly or criminally liable for having or assisting an abortion.
The law also allows people who have been “convicted” for receiving or assisting in an abortion to obtain legal damages.
In Delaware, doctors can legally terminate a pregnancy until the fetus is viable. After that point, abortions are only allowed if the procedure is essential to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. Or in the event that a medical provider detects an abnormality “for which there is no reasonable probability that the fetus will survive outside the womb without extraordinary medical measures,” according to the Delaware State Code.
In Hawaii, abortion is legal before a fetus is considered viable. The state law further provides that the state may not “deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose or obtain an abortion of a non-viable fetus” or an abortion that would protect the life or health of the patient.
In 2019, Illinois passed a law establishing the fundamental right to reproductive health, including abortion. The measure legalized the voluntary termination of pregnancy until such time as the fetus is considered viable. After that, the procedure is only legally permitted when “the abortion is necessary to protect the life or health of the patient.”
Under the law, a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no protected individual rights.
The legislation also requires health insurance plans that provide pregnancy-related coverage to also provide abortion coverage. In that sense, it stipulates that the additional costs for abortions cannot be higher than the costs related to pregnancy under the same plan.
Abortions are legal in Maine until the fetus is deemed viable, although there are additional limitations for minors. An abortion after fetus viability is allowed if the life or health of the pregnant person is at risk.
However, if an abortion procedure results in the birth of a live baby, the law requires that all reasonable efforts be made to preserve the life of the baby. Violating the rule “will subject the responsible party(ies) to Maine law governing murder, manslaughter, and wrongful death and medical malpractice liability,” according to the state’s Health and Welfare statutes.
In addition to the existing statute protecting pre-viability abortions, Maine also passed two laws in 2019 that allow physician assistants and certain highly trained nurses to perform the procedure. In addition, they require that health insurance plans that include pregnancy care also cover abortion.
In Maryland, abortions must be performed by licensed physicians and are legally guaranteed until the fetus is considered viable. Once that period is over, the procedure is only allowed if it protects the life or health of the pregnant person, or in cases where the fetus suffers “a genetic defect or serious deformity or anomaly,” according to the Health Code of the state.
In April, the Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and passed a bill that would expand the types of health professionals who can perform abortions. In addition, it will establish a program to train and diversify abortion service providers. The measure, which takes effect July 1, also requires most health insurance providers to cover abortion services.
Massachusetts changed its state law in 2020 to allow abortion up to 24 weeks. The procedure may be performed by a physician, physician assistant, registered nurse, or nurse midwife. If the pregnancy reaches 24 weeks or more, the law only allows abortions to save the life of the patient or to protect her mental or physical health. There are also exceptions if a “lethal fetal abnormality” is detected or “the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the womb,” the law states.
In a 1990 general election referendum, Nevada voters approved a law allowing a doctor to perform an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. Because the statute was passed through this mechanism, it cannot be changed through legislative amendment or appeal, according to the state’s Revised Statutes.
After 24 weeks, abortions may only be performed to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person. In cases where the doctor believes there is a chance that the fetus will survive outside the womb, the abortion must be performed in a licensed hospital, the law states.
The right to abortion is protected at all stages of pregnancy in New Jersey. A law enacted in January criminalizes the right to reproductive choice, including abortion, in the state.
The state of New York passed a law in 2019 to protect access to abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade. Under the statute, the procedure can legally be performed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason. After that, only if the fetus is no longer viable or the patient’s life or health is at risk.
The measure also removed abortion from the state criminal code, thereby protecting medical providers from facing criminal prosecution in the state for performing abortions.
In 2017, Oregon lawmakers passed a law that states that a public agency cannot deprive a person of the option of having an abortion or interfere with a medical professional providing the service. The law does not define a time or a period after which the procedure can no longer be performed.
The measure also requires health insurance plans offered in the state to provide coverage for abortion services, with some religious exceptions.
Rhode Island codified abortion protections in the state when its governor signed a law in 2019 that prohibits the state from restricting the procedure before the fetus is considered viable. The measure does not allow abortion after fetus viability, except when the patient’s health or life is at risk.
The legislation also repealed a measure that required medical providers to notify the husbands of married women before performing the procedure.
Vermont passed a law in 2019 that recognizes “the fundamental right of every person who becomes pregnant” to an abortion. It also prohibited government entities from infringing on that right. The law does not limit abortions at any time during pregnancy.
Voters in the 1991 Washington general election narrowly approved a measure establishing a woman’s right to have an abortion before the fetus was considered viable. The legislation also included exceptions in cases where the procedure would protect the life or health of the pregnant person.
In March, the state legislature changed the language of the rule to ensure that people are guaranteed access to reproductive rights, including abortion, regardless of their gender identity. Which allows the statute to apply to transgender and non-binary people. The new law will take effect on June 9.
The state also requires state-regulated health plans, including those for college students, to cover abortion services if they also cover pregnancy services.
The right to receive an abortion at any stage of pregnancy is protected by Washington City law. The statute prohibits the District from denying or interfering with a person’s right to choose an abortion. Nor does it provide a limit to protection beyond a certain stage of pregnancy.