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 are working to block those state bans from taking effect 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“trigger” laws intended to take effect if the Supreme Court overruled Roe, “pre-Roe” abortion bans that were never repealed, and several other laws banning or severely restricting abortion.
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:
- Louisiana: On August 4, an emergency writ was filed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, asking the court to reinstate a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s trigger bans. The bans took effect on August 1 after a state appellate court ordered the district court to lift the preliminary injunction it had issued blocking the bans. Abortion is currently unavailable in the state. The lawsuit challenging the trigger bans argues that the laws are unconstitutionally vague.
- North Dakota. On July 28, a state court temporarily blocked North Dakota’s trigger ban that was due to take effect that day. The ruling allows abortion care to continue at Red River Women’s Clinic, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed July 7 arguing 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.
- Georgia: On July 26, a lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, to bring a state constitutional challenge against H.B. 481, a law banning abortion at approximately six weeks of pregnancy. The lawsuit comes one week after a federal appeals court allowed the ban to take immediate effect after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to abortion. The ban had been blocked by a federal district court since it was signed in 2019. The lawsuit filed today argues that the ban violates Georgia’s constitutional right to privacy as well as judicial precedent in the state.
- South Carolina: A lawsuit was filed on July 13 in South Carolina state court seeking to again block the state’s law banning abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy. While earlier this year a federal appeals court had upheld a district court ruling blocking the law, after the U.S. Supreme Court revoked the constitutional right to abortion, a federal district court granted the governor’s emergency motion to stay the injunction, allowing the ban to take effect. The lawsuit argues that the law, S.B. 1, violates South Carolinians’ constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection by banning abortion, by providing inadequate protections for patients’ health, and by conditioning sexual assault survivors’ access to abortion on the disclosure of their personal information to law enforcement.
- 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.
- Florida: After a Florida court indicated on June 30 that it would issue an injunction blocking the state’s 15-week abortion ban scheduled to take effect July 1, the state appealed the ruling on July 5, triggering an automatic stay of the injunction, which allows the ban to stay in effect while the case proceeds. 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.
- 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. A hearing for a permanent injunction against the ban is scheduled for July 12.
- 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, abortion services have ceased in many states, with Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri and South Dakota banning abortion. In several other states, abortion care is not being provided due to the absence of the clear legal status of abortion. Up to half the U.S. states are expected to ban abortion due to the Court’s ruling.
“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.”
Read more about the lawsuits to block state abortion bans.
- Emergency Request Filed to Block Louisiana Trigger Bans, 08.04.22
- Georgia Doctors and Advocates File New Challenge to Six-Week Abortion Ban in State Court, 07.26.22
- Georgia Six-Week Abortion Ban to Take Effect, 07.20.22
- South Carolina Abortion Providers File New State Court Challenge to 6-Week Abortion Ban, 07.13.22
- Arizona Law Granting “Personhood” to Fetuses Blocked in Court, 07.11.22
- Challenge Filed to Block North Dakota’s Trigger Ban, 07.07.22
- Injunction on Florida’s 15-Week Abortion Ban Revoked Automatically Upon Appeal, Law to Remain in Effect, 07.05.22
- Total Abortion Ban in Texas Can Be Civilly Enforced, 07.01.22
- Florida Court Will Block 15-Week Abortion Ban, 06.30.22
- Louisiana Trigger Bans Blocked After Challenge by the Center and Partners, 06.27.22
- Texas Abortion Ban Challenged, 06.27.22
- Lawsuit Filed to Block Mississippi Trigger Ban, 06.27.22