What If Roe Fell?
Roe v. Wade—the landmark Supreme Court case establishing access to abortion as a constitutional right—has been settled law for over 45 years, yet remains under constant attack. President Trump promised that he will only appoint Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe, and with the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, we can assume he made good on that promise. We may now face the greatest threat to reproductive rights in more than a generation.
The Center for Reproductive Rights' report What If Roe Fell? answers the question on everyone's mind now more than ever: what will happen if Roe were toppled in your state, the day after?
A State-By-State Alert System If Roe Fell
This is how the United States performs on
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, in 21 states, the right to abortion is at the highest risk of loss—these states could ban abortion outright. In 6 states (including the District of Columbia), the right to abortion is at risk of loss, and in 24 states, the right to abortion appears secure.
If Roe fell, abortion rights would be lost in some states and remain secure in others. The risk of losing abortion rights depends on several factors.
- Does the state protect abortion apart from Roe through its constitution or statutes?
- On the other hand, does the state already have an abortion ban in place, with only Roe standing in the way?
- How hostile is its legislature and governor to abortion?
- Does the state have anti-abortion policy language on the books?
Choose a state below to see the factors that contribute to its risk level and compare it to other states.
This is how rates compared with
Status of Abortion Bans
A state's existing abortion bans factored into our analysis in determining its risk level of banning abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Whether it's an unenforceable pre-Roe abortion ban, an unconstitutional pre-viability abortion ban, or a so-called "trigger ban," these laws, alongside other factors, help paint the picture of the extent to which the right to abortion is secure if Roe falls. Twenty-four states have at least one of these bans on the books.
Glossary of Terms
State Constitutional Protection: The highest state court has held that the state constitution protects the right to abortion, separately and apart from the existence of any federal constitutional rights. Abortion would continue to be protected in these states even if Roe fell.
Statutory Protection: The state passed a law that strongly protects the right to abortion. State law would continue to provide protections if Roe fell, but is subject to legislative repeal and thus less secure than state constitutional protections that courts have recognized.
"Trigger Ban": The state passed an abortion ban that is not immediate but, rather, springs into effect the instant or soon after Roe is overturned. These bans would not require any legal action to go into effect if Roe were reversed.
Unconstitutional Gestational Limits: The state passed a law that bans abortion before a fetus is viable, such as a 20-week abortion ban. Roe declares that a law is unconstitutional if it bans abortion before viability. Note that laws banning methods of abortion, or abortion for particular reasons (such as the sex of the fetus), are not counted, because States do not typically frame them as invitations to overturn Roe.
Pre-Roe Ban: The state passed an abortion ban before Roe was decided, but the landmark decision made it unenforceable. If Roe were overturned, these laws could be revived in one of two ways. In some states, a ban was never declared unconstitutional or blocked by the courts, and therefore if Roe is overturned, state officials could immediately begin to enforce it. In other states courts have blocked or limited a pre-Roe ban based on the decision; officials could file court actions asking courts to activate the ban if Roe fell.
Legislative Makeup: The position of the state’s legislative chambers and state governor on reproductive rights, based on NARAL Pro-Choice America’s analysis. Each is classified as Pro-Choice, Mixed-Choice, or Anti-Choice.
Other Factors: The state adopted general policy statements that the legislature intends to protect "life" or the "unborn child" to the full extent possible under relevant legal doctrine. Also included in "other factors" – special circumstances, such as U.S. Congressional control over Washington D.C.
All data accurate as of 7/17/2019