In a leaked draft opinion made public Monday (May 2), the US Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark case that has protected abortion rights in the US for nearly 50 years. Although the leaked draft is not necessarily the final opinion of the Court, it has provoked a wave of reactions from both abortion rights advocates and life advocates. If the final opinion mirrors the draft, it would drastically change abortion rights in the United States.
Here are answers to questions about what could happen if the landmark ruling is overturned.
What happens if Roe v. Wade?
If Roe v. Wade, each state would determine its own laws regarding abortion. More than 20 US states have laws that could restrict access to abortion without Roe v. Wade. These include 13 states with “trigger laws” that would immediately make abortion illegal if Roe v. Wade and nine states that still have abortion bans on the books before Roe v. Wade (currently not enforced), according to Guttmacher Institutea non-profit sexual and reproductive health research and advocacy organization.
Where would abortion be illegal?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade. These include 22 states that already have laws that make it almost certain that they will ban abortion, including trigger laws, pre-Roe abortion bans, laws that ban abortion after six weeks (before many people know they are pregnant) and constitutional amendments prohibiting the right to abortion. These states include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Additionally, four states — Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska — are likely to ban abortion in light of recent actions to limit access to abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
In contrast, the 16 states with laws in place to protect abortion rights include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Can people get abortions out of state?
Currently, yes, people can cross state lines to access abortion care in a state that allows it, as long as they have the time and resources to do so. In the months after Texas passed a near-total abortion ban in September 2021, which outlawed abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, about 1,400 pregnant women traveled each month to Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma to get an abortion. , The New York Times reported.
However, some states may soon restrict out-of-state abortions, and Missouri has already tried.
Missouri lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a state resident have an abortion, whether or not that person resides in Missouri, reported politician. The bill was initially blocked in the state legislature, but could gain traction again if Roe falls. experts told The Guardian.
Are there abortion options that don’t require going to a doctor’s office?
Yes, “self-managed abortions” describe a situation where someone induces their own abortion outside of a medical setting. according to Whole Woman’s Health. Self-managed abortions involve taking abortion pills called mifepristone and misoprostol; these drugs are taken in combination or misoprostol can be taken alone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Taking abortion pills is generally known as a “medical abortion.”
The combination regimen involves taking mifepristone by mouth, waiting 24 to 48 hours, and then taking misoprostol by placing the pill in the vagina, under the tongue or on the cheek, says the WHO. Mifepristone blocks a hormone called progesterone, which is required to maintain a pregnancy, and misoprostol induces contractions, which can lead to bleeding, uterine cramping and pain, similar to a miscarriage, according to Whole Woman’s Health.
“Medical abortion is a safe and highly effective method of terminating pregnancy,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. If it is managed by 9th week of pregnancy“The pregnancy is terminated successfully 99.6% of the time, with a risk of major complications of 0.4% and an associated mortality rate of less than 0.001% (0.00064%)”.
Misoprostol taken alone can also effectively and safely terminate a pregnancy, although the combination regimen is specifically approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), notes the Whole Woman’s Health website.
The FDA has approved the use of mifepristone (trade name Mifeprex) and misoprostol within 10 weeks of a person’s last menstrual period. Starting in 2021, the agency has allowed people to receive these medications through the mail, rather than having to get them in person from a health provider at a specialty clinic. The New York Times reported. Providers can prescribe the pills and mail them after a telemedicine appointment with the patient.
However, several states restrict access to abortion pills at home by prohibiting the mailing of pills; require pills to be picked up in person; or set an earlier limit on when the pills can be taken, i.e. before the 10 weeks specified by the FDA. Some states also prohibit telemedicine appointments for abortion care. Pregnant people in states with such restrictions have, in the past, traveled to a permissive state and received the pills by mail there, according to the Times.
For a map of states that have restrictions on abortion pills, see the website of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
How would an abortion ban affect rates for the procedure?
It’s hard to predict exactly how much abortion rates would drop after Roe v. Wade was revoked. That’s because pregnant people who live in states where abortion is illegal can still order pills online or search for potentially dangerous illegal abortions, according to The New York Times. It is also possible that more clinics could open in areas where abortion is legal to treat patients from other states, the Times reported.
According to one estimate, legal abortions in the country would decrease by 14%, according to the times. That is based on investigate of the effects of the closure of abortion clinics, which make it more difficult for patients to receive abortions in the clinic. If Roe v. Wade, the average distance a person seeking an abortion would have to travel to reach a clinic would increase from about 35 miles to 279 miles (56 to 449 kilometers), the Times reported.
How do abortion bans affect pregnant women?
Studies have found that preventing people from obtaining wanted abortions can have serious adverse consequences, including mental, physical, and financial effects. In a study known as the Turnaway study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed data from 1,000 US women who sought abortions and either received an abortion or were denied an abortion because they were past their state’s gestational limit. The study found that women who were denied an abortion and gave birth were more likely to have serious complications, including eclampsia (seizures related to high blood pressure in pregnancy), postpartum hemorrhage, and death, than women who they aborted
In addition, abortion denial was linked to increased anxiety, stress, and lower self-esteem soon after denial, compared with women who had an abortion; these increases disappeared after six months.
People denied an abortion also experienced financial hardship, including a spike in household poverty that lasted at least four years, the researchers said.
Originally published on Live Science.