According to an updated report from the Center for Reproductive Rights released today, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion access would be secure in only 17 states. That means more than 37 million women in 33 states could lose their right to make choices about their own bodies.
Released a day after the 44th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case that made abortion legal, the report "What if Roe Fell?" offers a state-by-state analysis of the risk of losing abortion rights. The concern is that President Trump has promised to nominate pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, saying if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, the decision to make abortion legal "would go back to the states." He also noted that if a woman couldn't get access abortion in her state, she'd "have to go to another state."
The Center for Reproductive Rights deemed a total of 22 states to be at the highest risk of loss of abortion access. Among those that could ban abortion outright because they still have a pre-Roe ban still on the books are Arkansas, Utah, Louisiana, Arizona, and Wisconsin.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said during a press call this morning that there were a number of factors they considered in their analysis. In addition to looking at how hostile a state legislature was toward reproductive health care and whether a state had a pre-Roe abortion ban or a gestational limit (like a 20-week ban) on the books, they also took into account bans-in-waiting. Four states—Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota, and North Dakota—have bans-in-waiting in place, meaning there is no current abortion ban on the books but if Roe were to be overturned, a ban would spring into effect immediately, without any legal action.
According to an earlier version of the CRR report, bans-in-waiting are dangerous because they cannot be immediately challenged in court as they have not technically gone into effect. Because of this, "they are perceived as less urgent and don't inspire the same public dialogue or outrage often needed to demand their defeat," the report states. "Not one of the bans-in-waiting passed in the last three years has earned the same national media coverage as South Dakota's immediate ban did in 2006. In fact, the North Dakota ban-in-waiting passed in 2007 received no press coverage. And yet, each of them guarantees abortion will be outlawed in a state once Roe is overturned."
if Roe is overturned, we will see a public health crisis that for people living today almost feels unimaginable.
Alternatively, Northup said, there are seven states that have their own constitutional protections in place for abortion access. Should federal protections be eliminated, the right to get an abortion would be secure in California, Connecticut, Nevada, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, and Maryland.
"The 'What if Roe Fell?' map illustrates a woman's ability to access care heavily depends on her income and her zip code," said Elizabeth Barnes, president of The Women's Centers, during the press call. "A woman in New Jersey and a woman in Georgia face completely different barriers in trying to receive the care that she needs, when the truth is it should be equal."
Barnes also noted that "if Roe is overturned, we will see a public health crisis that for people living today almost feels unimaginable."
Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, says that the details of today's report should serve as a reminder that women need to be vigilant in defending their rights and offers some suggestions for advocates. "Reproductive rights supporters should urge their state elected officials to pass laws codifying the right to abortion and reject further restrictions on abortion care," she tells Broadly. "Supporters should also urge their members of Congress to sponsor the Women's Health Protection Act, which would prohibit state and federal politicians from furthering restricting a woman's access to safe, legal abortion. And as a Trump nominee for the Supreme Court looms, supporters must tell their senators that the promise of Roe—which has been protected by the Constitution for nearly 45 years—is not up for debate."