close
close
Here’s the landscape 2 years after the Supreme Court struck down the nation’s right to abortion

Here’s the landscape 2 years after the Supreme Court struck down the nation’s right to abortion

Judges, state lawmakers and voters are deciding the future of abortion in the US two years after the Supreme Court shook up the legal status quo with a ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.

The June 24, 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked legislative action, protests, and numerous lawsuits — placing the issue at the center of politics across the country.


Abortion is now banned at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions, in 14 Republican-controlled states. In three other states, it is banned after about the first six weeks, which is before many know they are pregnant. Most Democratic-led states have taken steps to protect abortion rights and have become sanctuaries for out-of-state patients seeking care.

This has changed the landscape of abortion access, making it more of a logistical and financial ordeal for many in conservative states. But it has not reduced the total number of procedures performed each month in the US

Here’s what you need to know now about the state of abortion rights in the US.

Limited access to abortion prompts more out-of-state travel

Bans in Republican-led states have caused many abortion seekers to travel to receive care.

This translates into higher costs for gas or plane tickets, hotels and meals; more logistics to figure out, including childcare; and more days off work.

A new study by the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion access, found that of just over a million abortions provided in clinics, hospitals and doctor’s offices, more than 161,000 — or 16 percent — were for people who crossed state lines to get their

More than two-thirds of the abortions performed in Kansas and New Mexico were for out-of-state, especially Texans.

Since Florida’s six-week abortion ban went into effect in May, many people have had to travel further than before because in the Southeast, most states have bans.

Low-income patients and those without legal permission to be in the country are more likely to be unable to travel. There may be lasting costs for those who do.

In Alabama, the Yellowhammer Fund, which previously helped residents pay for the procedure, has discontinued the procedure since facing threats of litigation from the state.

Jenice Fountain, Yellowhammer’s executive director, said she recently met a woman who traveled from Alabama to neighboring Georgia for an abortion, but found she couldn’t get one there because she was a little too pregnant. So he then went to Virginia. The trip wiped out his rent money and he needed help staying housed.

“People are using every penny they have to get out of state, or they’re using every penny to have another child,” Fountain said.

It is usually provided with pills rather than procedures

Almost two-thirds of the known abortions last year were provided with pills rather than procedures.

One report found that the pills are prescribed via telehealth and mailed to about 6,000 people a month who live in states with abortion bans. They are sent by medical providers in states with laws designed to protect them from prosecution for those prescriptions. Laws in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Washington specifically protect health care providers who prescribe the pills to patients in states with bans.

The increasing prominence of the pill, which was used in about half of all abortions even before the Dobbs ruling, is a frontier in the latest chapter of the legal battle.

The U.S. Supreme Court this month unanimously rejected an effort by abortion opponents seeking to overturn or reverse the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs commonly used together for medical abortions. The problem is likely to return.

Abortion is on the 2024 ballot

In this presidential election year, abortion is a key issue.

Protecting access has emerged as a key issue in the campaigns of Democrats, including President Joe Biden in his re-election bid. Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, said states should decide whether to restrict abortions. He also suggested that states could limit the use of contraception, but changed his tone on that.

“We recognize that this may be the last anniversary of Dobbs that we celebrate,” Kelsey Pritchard, spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in an interview, noting that if Democrats win the presidency and regain control of both houses of Congress, a right to abortion could be enshrined in law.

Also, the issue will be put directly before voters in at least four states. Colorado, Florida, Maryland and South Dakota passed ballot measures this year asking voters to approve state constitutional amendments that would protect or expand access to abortion. There are attempts to put abortion access questions on the ballot this year in Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Nevada, plus a legal challenge to a court ruling that struck a New York measure off the ballot.

There is also a push for a ballot measure in Arizona, where the state Supreme Court ruled this year that an 1864 abortion ban could be enforced. With the help of some Republicans — Democrats in the Legislature were able to repeal that law.

Abortion rights generally expand when voters decide. In the seven statewide votes on abortion policy since 2022, voters have sided with abortion rights advocates in every case.

It is still up to the courts, including the Supreme Court

The Dobbs decision and its aftermath have given rise to a host of legal questions and lawsuits challenging almost every ban and restriction.

Many of these questions concern how the exceptions — which come into play much more often when abortion is prohibited earlier in pregnancy — should apply. The issue is often raised by those who wanted to get pregnant but suffered life-threatening complications.

A group of women who had serious pregnancy complications but were denied abortions in Texas sued, arguing that the state’s ban is vague about what exceptions are allowed. The Republican Texas Supreme Court disagreed in a ruling in May.

The Supreme Court also heard arguments in April on the federal government’s lawsuit against Idaho, which says the ban on abortions at all stages of pregnancy can extend to women in medical emergencies. The Biden administration says this violates federal law. A ruling in this case could be issued at any time.

Meanwhile, the bans have been suspended by judges in Iowa, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.