The latest point in pregnancy you can get an abortion in all 50 states
- The US Supreme Court will take up a case that could jeopardize the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
- Currently, 43 states restrict most abortions after a certain point of pregnancy.
- Here’s the latest point patients can obtain an abortion in all 50 states.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In the term beginning in October 2021, the US Supreme Court will hear a key abortion rights case that could jeopardize the protections in Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 court decision in which the court ruled that states cannot ban abortion before the point of fetal viability.
After months of deliberation, the now 6-3 majority-conservative court decided to take up Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The law, passed in 2018, has been blocked from going into effect by two federal courts.
In taking on this case, the Court will specifically rule on the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on abortion are unconstitutional.”
Over the past decade, dozens of Republican-controlled state legislators have passed laws to severely restrict or ban abortion before fetal viability. These efforts have been blocked by courts.
Some legislators have explicitly said that the purpose of these bans is to bring a case before the Supreme Court that could end Roe v. Wade.
None of these or any previous first-trimester abortion restrictions states have tried to enact, however, have formally gone into effect. Six-week and total abortion bans previously passed by several Republican-controlled states, in addition to 15-week bans like Mississippi’s, have been temporarily or permanently struck down in court.
Here’s where abortion access in America stands as of right now, according to the Guttmacher Institute:
- 43 states restrict abortion at a certain point in pregnancy in some way, either defined in terms of weeks post-fertilization or weeks from the patient’s last menstrual period.
- All of those states include exceptions for threats to the life of the pregnant person and most have exceptions for their physical or general health. Four have exceptions for fatal fetal abnormalities, and both Arkansas and Utah include exceptions for rape and incest.
- 19 states ban abortion at 20 weeks.
- Four states ban abortions at 24 weeks of pregnancy.
- 19 states ban abortion at the point of fetal viability, which doesn’t have a clear scientific definition. While viability varies case-by-case, most fetuses become viable outside of the womb after about 24-28 weeks of gestation.
- Virginia bans abortion at the third trimester, which begins at 25 weeks, with exceptions for the life and general health of the patient.
If the Supreme Court did overturn Roe, it wouldn’t ban abortion nationwide. The United States would revert to its pre-Roe status, with abortion policy left entirely up to individual states.
In an attempt to prepare for such a situation, lawmakers in several Democratic-controlled states have enacted legislation in recent years that explicitly protects the right to abortion if Roe falls. For example, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Oregon have passed laws to ensure abortion remains legal within their states in the event that Roe does get overturned.
New York also expanded the conditions under which a patient can receive a late-term abortion from protecting the life of the patient to the health of the patient, and re-classified abortion regulations as a public health matter rather than a criminal one.
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