This story was originally published by The 19th.
Following Monday night’s leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that guaranteed abortion rights, Republican lawmakers in the state are scrambling to ensure they are prepared to limit access as soon as the law permits.
The language of the court’s decision will likely change at least somewhat when it is finally delivered by the end of June. But his central, high-profile statement — a 5-4 majority delivering a clear and unequivocal knockdown of Roe — should largely stick.
Here’s what Republican lawmakers in states across the country are doing in the run-up to the move to ensure abortion restrictions go into effect quickly.
Turn to the courts
Most state legislatures have already finished their legislative sessions or are past the point in the year when they can introduce new bills. So in many Republican-led states, lawmakers are gearing up to enforce laws that have already been passed and were later blocked by state and federal judges who had cited Roe v Wade’s federal protections. Without these protections, decisions could be reconsidered.
A law imposing new regulations on abortion clinics in Kentucky, restrictions on medical abortion in Montana and six-week abortion bans in states like Georgia, Ohio and South Carolina – here are some of the restrictions that have been blocked by the courts.
A decision overturning Roe could open up the application of these laws. But first, each state’s attorney general would have to formally ask the courts to overturn their decisions blocking them.
Some officials are already doing this. On Tuesday, the day after the Supreme Court’s draft ruling was leaked, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican re-elected this year, said he had ordered the state’s attorney general to have their six-week abortion ban if Roe was overturned.
A spokesperson for the governor of South Carolina did not respond to a request for comment. Andrew Isenhour, spokesman for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, another Republican, did not respond directly to whether Kemp will seek to reinstate that state’s six-week ban.
But, he told the 19, Kemp “has been and remains focused on defending Georgia’s strong pro-life legislation against legal challenges.”
“Trigger laws” would prohibit abortion once Roe is overturned, but typically require some sort of state action – a certification from the governor, attorney general, or independent legislative council that Roe has, in fact, been invalidated – before they could come into force.
The leak gave state officials a head start in preparing briefing materials and court documents that allow them to quickly enforce the bans. So far, 13 states have already passed trigger bans that could go into effect after Roe’s overturn.
A push for new bills
Because most state legislatures are no longer in session — and since many have already passed so many types of abortion bans — only a few states are considering passing new abortion restrictions.
In Ohio, where the legislature meets year-round, lawmakers are weighing their own state-trigger ban, which DeWine has indicated he will sign.
And on Wednesday, a Louisiana legislative committee voted in favor of a bill that outlines where the fight against abortion could go next: Bill 813 would reclassify abortion as homicide and, unlike most other abortion bans, abortion, would extend the penal sanctions to the pregnant person.
Proponents of the bill acknowledge that it is likely unconstitutional under current Roe v Wade guidelines. But without Roe, things could be very different.
Historically, anti-abortion lawmakers have been reluctant to pass laws punishing pregnant women, instead focusing on medical professionals who perform abortions. It’s unclear if other states will follow Louisiana’s lead, said abortion law researcher and professor Mary Ziegler.
“On the one hand, these are states that have reasons not to punish women and pregnant women, but I think the pressure will increase. And once someone else is first, it can be easier for other states to follow,” Ziegler said. “I imagine there is going to be a real debate.”
Governors can also convene special legislative sessions this summer to pass new anti-abortion laws. So far, no governor has publicly committed to doing so.
In Indiana, Republican state lawmakers — who control both branches of the state house — have publicly urged the governor to call a special session if Roe is unseated.
The state does not yet have an initiation law and currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks pregnant. But Indiana lawmakers have a solid reputation for opposing abortion rights. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion policy, the state has enacted 55 new restrictions on the procedure over the past decade and would have to severely limit or ban access once Roe is rescinded.
Nebraska lawmakers are also warning of a possible special session once Roe is unseated. Efforts to pass trigger legislation failed last year, though the governor — who has yet to commit to recalling state lawmakers — said he supports such an abortion ban. .
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has already planned to call the legislature back in session, but with a mandate to focus on the property insurance policy. Since Monday night, however, local abortion opponents have been calling on DeSantis to add an abortion ban to the legislature’s to-do list.
Florida passed a 15-week abortion ban earlier this year, but efforts to enact a six-week ban never took off. DeSantis, who is widely believed to be planning a presidential run in 2024, has not pledged to pursue tougher abortion bans. And blanket abortion bans are less popular in Florida than in other Republican-run states, Ziegler noted.
But even if it’s not this summer, Glenn said, Florida could become a priority state for abortion opponents in the coming years, alongside states such as Montana, Iowa and Kansas, which recently passed more abortion restrictions but is not ready to ban access. once Roe is knocked down. In Iowa and Kansas, state supreme courts have ruled that their constitutions protect abortion rights, but abortion opponents in both states are trying to pass amendments that would remove those protections.
“There will be these states in the middle,” she said. “And as we’ve seen here in Florida this year, there will be a lot more opportunity for the legislative process and the people of the state to weigh in.”