State Constitutions and Abortion Rights
Since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the federal constitutional right to abortion in its 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states have become the battlegrounds for abortion rights. State courts are deciding whether and how their own constitutions protect abortion rights, some for the first time. Plus, voters are weighing in on ballot initiatives to amend their state constitutions to protect or deny reproductive rights.
The Center for Reproductive Rights has developed a new digital tool, State Constitutions and Abortion Rights, showing the current status of abortion rights through state court constitutional decisions. View the tool here.
With the new tool, users will be able to explore:
- A user-friendly state-by-state map showing abortion rulings by state high courts and the constitutional provisions and amendments serving as the basis of those decisions.
- State high court opinions from both before and since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs took away the constitutional right to abortion, updated as more courts rule on the issue.
- Filters that show which state courts across the country have recognized or denied abortion rights and states where rights are undetermined.
- Where voters have approved state constitutional amendments that negate high court decisions.
With Unique Constitutions, State Courts Are Able to Recognize Abortion Rights Protections
Every state in the nation has a unique constitution, along with state courts free to recognize protections 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 overturned a federal liberty right to abortion and upended 50 years of settled law, it left untouched precedent in many states both recognizing and denying abortion rights. Post-Dobbs, state courts are building on, extending and revisiting those precedents. These decisions will reshape state constitutional law on reproductive rights and beyond.
Check out this new tool and find out where your state and others stand on abortion rulings: