Sunday, August 7, 2022

Explainer: abortion decision raises wave of new legal issues

The Supreme Court overturn of Roe v. Wade has sparked a frenzy of activity in courts across the country, asking judges to decide when state-imposed restrictions or other far-reaching restrictions on abortion can go into effect. Huh.

Some controversies involve restrictions that have not been applied to books for generations. Some include “trigger laws” that were specifically designed to take effect if the cry were to fall. Some ban abortions that were stopped while the ruling on Roe’s fate awaits and is now moving forward.

To complicate matters, some states have multiple abortion restrictions, and the measures are set to oppose, overlap, or take effect at different times.

Here’s a look at some of the major legal issues.

What happened?

The Supreme Court last week overturned a landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, ruling that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is no longer protected under the US Constitution. The High Court left it to the states to decide whether abortion is now legal within their borders.

In anticipation of such a decision, several Republican-controlled states have passed strict abortion restrictions in recent years. Some of these “trigger laws” are now in effect, while some are being blocked, at least temporarily. In some states, old laws that became null and void because of the cry are now reappearing.

what does it mean on the ground

The result is that many conservative states now have restrictions or deeper restrictions on abortion, while the most liberal states are seeking to add more protections.

Ultimately, about half of the states are expected to make abortion illegal or severely limit it.

But the situation has been highly fluid in recent days, as courts weigh in on disputes between abortion enemies and abortion rights advocates.

As of Wednesday afternoon, due to restrictions at some clinics, tighter restrictions or fear of prosecution, abortions were only available in rare circumstances, if at all, in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Patients in Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas may be aborted only to the point where cardiac activity can be detected in the fetus. This usually happens around week six, before many women find out they are pregnant.

Almost complete restrictions are expected in the coming weeks in Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota and Tennessee as their triggering laws go into effect.

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In Louisiana and Utah, court decisions have led to an almost complete ban.

competition restrictions

In some states, there are several restrictions on the books, creating the illusion that clinics and patients are scrambling.

Texas is an example of this. The state already bans most abortions after cardiac activity is detected. That law took effect in September and rape or incest cases are no exception.

On Tuesday, however, a judge in Houston temporarily blocked enforcement of an even stricter state law that would ban nearly all abortions. That law has been on the books for decades, but it was repealed while Roe was in place.

But even with that old law, Texas is still set to ban nearly all abortions before long: The state has a separate trigger law that will take effect in the coming months.

Amid a whirlwind of decisions, all clinics in the state initially stopped performing abortions last week. But four clinics in Texas run by Whole Women’s Health began offering them again this week, albeit in their first six weeks of pregnancy.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood, which has not resumed abortion in Texas, said the organization’s affiliates in states that are “extremely hostile” to abortion are being forced to make “difficult operational decisions.” Is.”

legal argument

Because the Supreme Court held that abortion is not protected by the U.S. Constitution, abortion rights advocates are challenging many of these restrictions by arguing that they violate their state’s constitution—say, privacy, liberty, or equal protection. rights of.

Such an argument is the focus of a challenge in Florida. Opponents say the ban on abortion after 15 weeks, which will take effect Friday, would violate Florida’s constitution’s right to privacy guarantees.

However, some legal challenges are more about process: they will look at whether sanctions were properly enforced or in conflict with other laws.

Jennifer Dalwen, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said, “Litigation is designed to protect abortions in as many places as we can, for as long as we can. ” ,

But she said that ultimately, the courts will not be the solution, and politicians will need to act.

National Right to Life Committee attorney James Bop Jr. said lawmakers have taken steps to ensure that the triggering laws stand up to legal scrutiny, including provisions that say the state attorney general or any other official declare that the conditions have been fulfilled. law to take effect.

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Those measures will ensure that due process is followed in enforcing the laws, he added.

“It’s hard to imagine any legitimate claim against those laws,” he said.

When it comes to laws that have been on the books for generations, there has been some mixed activity. Top Democratic officials in Michigan and Wisconsin are asking state courts to rule that old restrictions there cannot take effect.

In Arizona, the governor said a new law that takes effect later this year — which prohibits abortions after 15 weeks — takes precedence over a total ban adopted before Arizona became a state more than a century ago. Still, providers stopped performing abortions last week for fear of being prosecuted under the old law.

fighting a legal battle

Some states seeking to outlaw abortion may be trying to reach across state lines to essentially enforce their restrictions.

In Missouri, a measure that was proposed but would have failed to pass last year would make it illegal in the state to abort a fetus that is pregnant—even if the procedure was performed in a state where abortion is legal.

Abortion rights advocates warn that similar proposals could be brought again or elsewhere, along with other efforts to restrict out-of-state travel for abortions.

Connecticut, on the other hand, has legislation that takes effect Friday to protect its abortion providers from being prosecuted in other states. Many governors have taken or planned similar steps through laws or executive action.

Allowing such measures could become the next legal front in the abortion debate.

But even within states, prosecution is being challenged. City councils in New Orleans and Austin, Texas — both liberal cities in conservative states — are considering measures that would require law enforcement officials to make abortion investigations their lowest priority.

And whenever policies on abortion change, so do lawsuits.

“It will move towards different limits,” Dalwen said. “The current wave of litigation will go ahead. It will transform over time.”


For Associated Press’s full coverage of the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, visit

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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