State Constitutions and Abortion Rights

State Constitutions and Abortion Rights

How Have State Courts Ruled on a Right to Abortion?

Every state in the nation has a unique constitution, along with state courts free to recognize protection for rights including abortion. For decades, state courts have heard challenges to abortion restrictions and interpreted a wide range of rights — among them liberty, equality, and privacy — to uphold or strike down laws independently from federal courts. And while the U.S. Supreme Court’s regressive decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned a federal liberty right to abortion, upending 50 years of settled law, it left untouched precedent in many states both recognizing and denying abortion rights. In the wake of Dobbs, even more state courts are deciding for the first time whether and how their state constitutions protect abortion.

Use this resource to explore the current status of abortion rights through state court constitutional decisions.  

30

State high courts have decided cases challenging abortion restrictions under their state constitutions.

12

State high courts have recognized that their constitutions protect abortion rights independently from the federal constitution.

4

State high courts have denied that their state constitutions protect abortion rights independently from the federal constitution.

11

State high courts have upheld or blocked abortion restrictions without deciding whether their state constitutions protect a right to abortion.

3

State high court decisions have been negated by constitutional amendments that change the status of abortion rights in the state.

State Court Abortion Decisions

Many state courts have decided challenges to abortion bans and restrictions both before and after Dobbs. Some courts have determined that their constitutions protect a right to abortion, while others have denied constitutional protections. Others have upheld or blocked laws without ruling on whether a constitutional right exists. And in a few states, voters have approved constitutional amendments that negate prior court decisions and changed the status of the state’s abortion rights. State courts have relied on a wide range of constitutional provisions, and some limited their analyses to specific situations, such as when a patient’s life or health is at risk. State courts that have recognized abortion rights have sometimes ultimately upheld restrictions, and conversely, some courts have blocked restrictions even without finding a right to abortion.

Use the map to learn more about the status of state constitutional protections in each state.

Select one or more filters on the map to view categories of state high court decisions on abortion rights.
  • Ban or Restriction Upheld
  • Ban or Restriction Blocked
  • Post-Dobbs decision or amendment

State-by-State Analysis

Hover over a state on the map above for a summary of its high court’s precedent on constitutional protections for abortion. Click the “court precedent” tab below for more information about published opinions and links to the relevant court decisions. Click the “constitutional provisions” tab below for links to state constitutional provisions relied on in those decisions and constitutional amendments that post-date and sometimes change the status of abortion rights in the state.

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