Abortion has previously been legal in the U.S. and across its states until the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade. The court’s decision ended a half-century of constitutionally protected abortion rights, which means states will now be allowed to regulate the procedure.
At least 13 states have laws that either ban abortion immediately or will do so soon. Some states that immediately effected the ban include Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Alabama.
The laws make performing an abortion a felony punishable by years-long prison sentences. They do not make exceptions for rape or incest. However, under the laws, women cannot be prosecuted for receiving an abortion.
Anyone who performs an abortion in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma faces ten years in prison unless the procedure is done to save the pregnant woman’s life.
Arkansas and Louisiana also allow physicians to end ectopic pregnancies or treat miscarriages.
In Missouri, anyone who performs an abortion would face up to a 15-year jail sentence. Exceptions will be made where the procedure is done in the case of a medical emergency.
In Kentucky, anyone who performs an abortion would face up to five years in prison. The law makes exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman or procedures by physicians that result in the unintentional end of a pregnancy. Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, condemned the law as an extremist.
Any person who performs an abortion in South Dakota now faces up to two years in prison unless the procedure is performed to protect the mother’s life.
Idaho, Tennessee and Texas will implement abortion bans in 30 days, according to the text of the laws. Abortion bans in Mississippi, North Dakota and Wyoming go into effect after the attorney general, governor or certain legislative bodies certify that the Supreme Court has done away with Roe.
On Friday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice will protect women who travel from states with bans to receive abortions in states where the procedure is legal.
“Few rights are more central to individual freedom than the right to control one’s own body,” Garland said. “The Justice Department will use every tool at our disposal to protect reproductive freedom. And we will not waver from this Department’s founding responsibility to protect the civil rights of all Americans.”
The abortion pill, mifepristone, is approved in the U.S. to end pregnancies before the 10th week of pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration first approved the medication in 2000, but required women to obtain it in person under a program that monitors certain drugs for safety risks. Abortion rights advocates fiercely criticized the FDA requirements, arguing that mifepristone had a long and proven track record as a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy.
Nevertheless, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra assured that victims of rape and incest in states where abortion has been banned will have ready access to medication that terminates pregnancy.