The near-total ban on abortions signed into law in Alabama this month is the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country, but the state is not alone in trying to put limits on the procedure.
Spurred by Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment as the fifth conservative vote on the Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists have moved to pass bills restricting abortion across the country.
These laws may be unenforceable because of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states. But abortion opponents are hoping that the legal challenges will serve as a vehicle for the Supreme Court to eventually overturn the Roe ruling.
Here’s a look at which states are joining in this legal effort:
States that already passed anti-abortion bills
On May 14, Alabama legislators passed a bill banning abortions with very limited exceptions: “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly” and if the woman has an ectopic pregnancy.
An amendment to exempt rape and incest victims failed to pass. The law calls for doctors who perform abortions to be treated as felons and face up to 99 years in prison.
Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law on May 15, saying the law “stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.” But she acknowledged that political considerations played a role in the bill’s passage.
“Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973,” she said. “The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”
Aside from Alabama, multiple states have passed so-called “heartbeat” bills that ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant.
Louisiana lawmakers passed a “heartbeat bill” on May 29, with no exceptions for rape or incest. It went to the desk of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has said he would sign it.
The bill would allow for abortions preventing a pregnant woman’s death or “serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Abortions on “medically futile” fetuses that would not survive past birth also are not subject to restrictions.
The bill would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion and subject doctors who perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected with a $1,000 fine or up to two years in prison.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a “heartbeat” bill in March. Exceptions are to prevent a woman’s death or her serious risk of impairment.
“The heartbeat has been the universal hallmark of life since man’s very beginning,” Bryant said in an address before signing the bill.
A federal judge on May 24 issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the law from taking effect in July.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed into a heartbeat bill in April, a day after the state House and Senate passed the law. Similar legislation was vetoed by former Gov. John Kasich before he left office.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill May 7 that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The American Civil Liberties Union has said it will challenge the law in court.
Current Georgia law allows women to undergo abortion procedures up to their 20th week of pregnancy. The new law would generally ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected and takes effect on January 1, 2020.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law a bill that prohibits abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy. It includes exceptions for what it defines as medical emergencies, such as cases when the mother’s life is at risk or she is facing serious permanent injury, but not for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.
Kentucky passed a “heartbeat” bill in March, but a federal judge stopped it from being enforced.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill in March that bans abortions after 18 weeks into a pregnancy – six weeks before the standard set by Roe v. Wade – except in medical emergencies and in cases of rape or incest.
Utah similarly passed a law that bans abortion after 18 weeks gestation, but the law was blocked by