More states to enact abortion-triggering bans this week: NPR

know about More states to enact abortion-triggering bans this week: NPR

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How much has the abortion law changed since the Supreme Court ruling? Two months ago, the majority of the court made the decision to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion. That ruling launched the matter to the states. NPR National Correspondent Sarah McCammon covers the politics of abortion rights. Hi Sara.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What is the count of states that have changed their laws in these two months?

MCCAMMON: Well, until now, many states had activation bans, laws that were written to take effect essentially as soon as the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. So about eight states already have total or near-total abortion bans in place. And that’s according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. But Steve, what’s happening this week is basically others had a set waiting period. And there has also been some litigation in the air in various states. So a handful of states are expected to have abortion bans take effect this week, Thursday or Friday. And we’re talking about Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho, plus North Dakota. There is some litigation in the air there. But unless the court intervenes, the date in North Dakota is Friday.

INSKEEP: Okay. So abortion would still be legal in most states. But a growing number are banning them or come very close to it. What impacts are these laws having?

MCCAMMON: Well, these new laws in many cases are essentially already in place. I mean, the impact is already there. So, Texas, we know that last year, Texas had that state law that bans most abortions after six weeks and it went into effect in September. And there are also more laws on the books that have been triggered by the nullification of Roe v. Wade. That… right now in Texas, Steve, there are no clinics that offer abortions, a change that really started, you know, months ago.

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INSKEEP: Correct.

MCCAMMON: Idaho has a similar law in place to Texas that is enforced through private lawsuits. But there is another law, again, which may go into effect at the end of this week. North Dakota has only one remaining abortion clinic. It has already moved its services to Minnesota, at least for now, where abortion remains legal. And then Tennessee also has very limited access to abortion because of a six-week ban there. But the law that will go into effect this week goes further, a near-total ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. So we’re seeing kind of a deepening of what’s already happening.

INSKEEP: Yes. That’s a good word, deepen. We have laws about laws about laws. But you mentioned court battles challenging some of those laws. Where are those battles?

MCCAMMON: Correct. Therefore, abortion rights groups have been trying to argue that at least some state constitutions offer protections for the right to abortion, even if the US Constitution does not. And opponents of abortion rights are, of course, backing down. Erin Hawley is a senior adviser to the anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working to enforce abortion laws in several states, including Wyoming. And she hopes that more states will eventually allow their abortion bans to go into effect.

ERIN HAWLEY: I think we’re going to see a number of other states, that these laws come online, that state intermediate courts of appeals and state supreme courts find that there is no state constitutional right to abortion, hopefully Wyoming, Arizona, some of these other places too.

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MCCAMMON: And then Steve, there are the federal challenges. We mentioned Idaho. The Justice Department challenges Idaho’s activation ban. There’s a hearing scheduled for today on that case.

INSKEEP: Oh, interesting. What other abortion laws may be yet to come?

MCCAMMON: Well, the Dobbs decision is prompting some Republican state officials to consider passing new legislation. I spoke with Elisabeth Smith from the Center for Reproductive Rights. She predicts that, particularly when many legislatures reconvene next year, there will be a lot more of that.

ELISABETH SMITH: And I think it’s important to talk about the fact that we’ll probably also see novel criminal penalties for abortion providers and attendants and some states trying to prevent people from crossing state lines.

MCCAMMON: And with that said, Steve, she’s encouraged by what she saw in Kansas earlier this month, when voters resoundingly rejected an amendment that would have opened the door for more abortion bans. She hopes that translates to other state ballots this November.

INSKEEP: Sarah, thanks for the update.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That’s NPR’s Sarah McCammon.

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