Following the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated a constitutional right to abortion nationwide, nearly two dozen US states have banned or limited access to the procedure. States where abortion is most limited report higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, as well as greater economic insecurity.
The fight over abortion is well underway in state legislatures. Most recently, on Aug. 23 the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed a temporary block on a “heartbeat bill” — which would ban abortion at the time when a fetus’ heartbeat can be detected, usually as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. In July, Iowa also banned most abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant. A district judge, however, placed a temporarily hold on the ban just a few days after it went into effect. Abortions remain legal in Iowa until 22 weeks in the meantime.
Health care providers and abortion activists have continued to file legal challenges to stop bans in several states from being enforced. A district judge in Wyoming temporarily blocked the state’s new abortion ban days after it went into effect in March, meaning abortion remains legal until viability for now. Another judge banned Wyoming’s first-of-its-kind ban on abortion pills a week before it was intended to take effect. Earlier this year, South Carolina’s state Supreme Court overturned a six-week ban — similar to the most recently blocked ban — concluding in a 3-2 decision that the law violated the state constitution’s privacy protections. Georgia’s six-week ban was blocked in November by a state court, but days later, Georgia’s Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into effect while an appeal by the state plays out.
As these legal challenges make their way through the courts, patients seeking access to the procedure must navigate a complicated patchwork of legislation, often requiring them to travel hundreds of miles.
Here’s where abortion access currently stands in the United States.
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Priya Krishnakumar and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.