(CNN) — A series of restrictive state abortion laws, including so-called trigger laws, will go into effect this week, putting abortion access out of reach for millions of women, as Republican-led states race to limit the procedure from the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe vs. Wade.
Trigger laws in three states — Idaho, Tennessee and Texas — take effect Thursday, banning abortions in their respective states with few exceptions, though litigation continues around certain aspects of some of those states’ bans. These laws were designed to take effect 30 days after the broadcast of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wadea court procedural step that took place on July 26.
North Dakota’s activation law that bans abortions in most circumstances goes into effect this Friday. This Saturday, meanwhile, an Oklahoma law takes effect that enacts higher criminal penalties for performing illegal abortions, adding to the state’s already strict laws that prohibit the procedure.
For about 10.1 million women of reproductive age (ages 15 to 49) in these five states, access to abortion will be affected by these laws, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a health-focused research and policy organization. sexual and reproductive supports the right to abortion. With these laws in place, nearly a third of US states will have restrictions or a near-total ban on abortion, according to abortion-rights groups.
While these states had restrictions on abortion before this week, North Dakota could see perhaps the most drastic change.
The state, which currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks or more after fertilization, will enact a near-total ban on the procedure and medical abortions. North Dakota’s abortion ban, passed in 2007, would make it a felony to perform the procedure in the state with exceptions for the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion clinic in the state, challenged the ban and managed to delay its implementation for about a month. A judge has yet to rule on whether to grant a preliminary injunction, which would stop enforcement of the ban and provide relief to providers and patients. Anticipating being forced to close its doors, the Red River Women’s Clinic has set up shop across the border in Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion is still legal.
Abortion in Texas
Before this Thursday, abortion was already effectively banned in Texas, and clinics suspended abortions as a result of two Texas laws that could expose them to civil lawsuits.
The Texas activation law, passed in 2021, makes abortions illegal unless the pregnant woman is at risk of death or “substantial impairment of a major bodily function.” It does not provide exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Abortions up to six weeks of pregnancy had been available in Tennessee, but the law that went into effect Thursday bans abortions at all stages of pregnancy except when necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or a serious risk of “substantial and irreversible impairment” of a bodily function. Like Texas, Tennessee would also not allow abortions in cases of rape or incest.
Idaho had also recently banned abortions after fetal heart activity is detected, which can occur around six weeks of pregnancy. Idaho’s activation law prohibits performing abortions unless it is necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman, or in situations of rape or incest that have been reported to law enforcement.
A federal judge issued a preliminary order Wednesday blocking Idaho’s ban from applying to certain medical emergencies, granting a request by the Biden administration, which had argued that the Idaho ban exposed doctors to prosecution for care of the abortion they were required to offer under federal law.
Idaho’s decision came a day after a decision in a Texas case that concerned how that state’s abortion ban interacted with federal law setting standards for emergency room care.
The Biden administration has argued that the federal law, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA, requires doctors to offer abortion services to patients facing death threats or other serious health risks. due to a pregnancy.
A federal judge in Texas Tuesday night rejected that interpretation, granting a request by Texas and a national organization that the judge block the administration from using the law to require providers to offer abortion services to emergency patients in the face of a state ban on the procedure. In Idaho, the judge agreed with the Justice Department’s argument that EMTALA preempted state abortion bans when those bans would criminalize emergency medical procedures under federal law.
Both cases could be appealed, raising the possibility that the Supreme Court in the coming weeks may be asked to assess the scope of the federal law and whether it preempts state bans on abortion in emergency care situations.
In addition, organizations that offer financial and logistical assistance to people seeking abortions filed a federal lawsuit this week in Texas asking the court to block enforcement of its activation ban and other bans on abortion for conduct occurring out of state.