Since the U.S. Supreme Court took away the constitutional right to abortion on June 24, anti-abortion states have rushed to implement abortion bans that were previously unenforceable. The Center for Reproductive Rights and its partners continue to work to block those state bans and to preserve access to abortion care.
Lawsuits filed on behalf of abortion providers are challenging state “trigger” laws intended to take effect if the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, “pre-Roe” abortion bans that were never repealed, and several other laws banning or severely restricting abortion. Some laws ruled unconstitutional years ago under Roe are also being revived.
The effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling “has been swift and severe, with abortion services stopping immediately in many states,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center. “We are seeing the start of a public health crisis that will engulf the nation. Our immediate priority is to preserve access in every state for as long as we can. Every day and hour that a clinic can stay open is a victory for the patients in the waiting room.”
Here’s a summary of the cases by the Center and its partners:
- North Dakota: On August 25, a state court in North Dakota issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s trigger ban from taking effect. The ban was set to go into effect on August 26, but the ruling means that abortion care will remain legal in North Dakota while the case proceeds. In July, the court had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law, stating that the North Dakota Attorney General prematurely triggered the ban. The lawsuit filed July 7 argues that the ban is unconstitutional under the North Dakota Constitution, which guarantees the rights of life, liberty, safety, and happiness—all of which protect the right to abortion.
- South Carolina: On August 17, the South Carolina Supreme Court preliminarily blocked the state’s ban on abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, allowing abortion care to continue in the state while litigation proceeds. While earlier this year a federal appeals court upheld a district court ruling blocking the ban, days after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to abortion, the federal district court dismissed the case and allowed the ban to take effect. The lawsuit filed on July 13 argues that the law, S.B. 1, violates South Carolinians’ constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection.
- Georgia: On August 15, the Superior Court of Fulton County refused to block Georgia’s law banning abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy while litigation proceeds. The ruling denied preliminary injunctive relief and is not a final resolution of the case. The lawsuit filed on July 26 argues that the ban violates Georgia’s constitutional right to privacy and was void from the start under Georgia law because it violated federal constitutional precedent when enacted in 2019. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a federal appeals court allowed the ban to take immediate effect on July 20.
- Louisiana: On August 15, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied an emergency writ filed August 4 requesting the court to reinstate a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s trigger bans. Despite the injunction being lifted, the case will continue on the merits in the trial court. Abortion care has been unavailable in the state since August 1, after a state appellate court ordered the district court to lift the preliminary injunction it had issued blocking the bans. The lawsuit challenging the trigger bans argues that the laws are unconstitutionally vague.
- Florida: On August 10, Florida abortion providers sought review in the Florida Supreme Court in their challenge to the state’s 15-week abortion ban. The state had appealed a lower court ruling blocking the ban on July 5, triggering an automatic stay of the injunction, which allowed the ban to remain in effect. The ban has been in effect since July 1. The case argues that the law, HB 5, is unconstitutional under the Florida state constitution, which contains an explicit privacy clause that protects individuals’ right to privacy, including abortion.
- Arizona: On July 11, after a hearing on July 8, a federal district court granted a request to block Arizona’s personhood law as applied to abortion. The “personhood requirement,” challenged in a case filed in August 2021, would anoint fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs with the same “rights and privileges” as “other persons” for purposes of all Arizona law. The personhood law is one of several conflicting laws on the books in the state, including a pre-Roe ban, adding to the confusion on whether abortion providers can resume services.
- Texas: A lawsuit was filed in Texas state court seeking to block officials from enforcing the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban, which once banned abortion entirely but has been interpreted to be repealed and unenforceable. On June 28, the court granted a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the ban. On July 1, the Supreme Court of Texas partially granted a request from the state attorney general, which allows for civil enforcement of the abortion ban.
- Mississippi: A case filed on June 27 is challenging Mississippi’s trigger ban and six-week ban in state court, arguing that the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion. After a hearing on July 5, a Mississippi state court denied a request to block the ban from taking effect.
- Oklahoma: A lawsuit was filed in the Oklahoma Supreme Court July 1 seeking to block the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban, enacted in 1910, and a total abortion ban slated to take effect in August. The lawsuit asserts that the criminal abortion bans violate Oklahomans’ state constitutional rights to personal and bodily autonomy, health, and substantive due process.
For the First Time in History, the U.S. Supreme Court Takes Away a Fundamental Right
On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for states to ban abortion when it announced its decision to abandon almost 50 years of precedent and take away the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling came in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The decision marks the first time in history that the Supreme Court has taken away a fundamental right.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, several states have made abortion entirely illegal, and up to half the U.S. states are expected to ban abortion due to the Court’s ruling. (See the Center’s “After Roe Fell: Abortion Laws by State” map and interactive tool for real-time updates.)
“I started my medical career before Roe v. Wade and never imagined our country would go back to criminalizing doctors and preventing us from helping women,” said Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion provider and owner of Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services in San Antonio. “Abortion is a standard and necessary part of maternal health care. Nobody should be forced to travel across state lines for basic, time-sensitive health care.”