Trigger Laws, Discussions in State Legislatures: Next Steps After Roe v. wade fall

The United States Supreme Court struck down nearly 50 years of federal jurisprudence this Friday (26 ), by overturning the Roe v. Wade, of 1973, maintained in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (from 1992), which prevented US states from banning abortion before the so-called viability – minimum period of gestation for a fetus to survive outside the uterus, now estimated at about 24 weeks.

This Friday’s decision does not mean that abortion is banned throughout the US, but that each state returns to have the freedom to define their laws on the subject as they prefer.

For example, states governed by the Democratic Party, such as California and New York, had already anticipated that they would become “havens”. for anyone who wants to have an abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade was overthrown.

More than half of US states must ban or impose stricter limits on abortion: The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports voluntary termination of pregnancy, had estimated that 26 of 50 states would restrict or attempt to prohibit abortion immediately after the overturning of the federal jurisprudence of 1973.

As early as this Friday, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota have already made use of the so-called trigger laws, passed in advance, to prohibit abortion in this way.

Other 20 states may impose short-term bans and restrictions. In 2020, the Idaho Legislature passed a trigger law, which would take effect 30 days after the publication of a United States Supreme Court decision. to grant states the right to legislate on abortion.

Therefore, abortion at any stage of pregnancy will be a crime punishable by up to five years in prison in the state, unless the procedure is to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest.

Texas, which had passed the so-called Heartbeat Act last year, which prohibits abortion in the state from from the moment the fetal cardiac activity can be detected (around six weeks of gestation), there is also a trigger law, to come into effect 30 days after the decision of the Supreme Court to be published.

Abortion will become a crime in the state at any stage of pregnancy and the only exceptions will be in case of life-threatening or substantial impairment of an important bodily function of the mother . Doctors who perform abortions can be sentenced to life imprisonment and fines of up to US$ 100 thousand.

“Now there are two categories of laws , the ones that were shelved, so to speak, before Roe v. Wade – those were kind of suspended and not all of them have been repealed, some of them will come back into effect – and then there are new laws. Some states also have laws that will protect abortion,” explained Tom Jipping, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, in an interview with The Daily Signal podcast.

Pro-life movements are now mobilizing so that states where abortion will continue to be allowed change their legislation. In Colorado, for example, Democratic Governor Jared Polis recently enacted the inclusion of the “right to abortion” in state legislation.

Jipping pointed out that with the responsibility to freely legislate on abortion returning to states, elections for local representatives gain more importance.

“There are things that both state legislatures and Congress can do. I believe that government at all levels should do everything the Constitution allows to protect the unborn. That should be our goal as far as the legislative part of our efforts going forward,” said Jipping.

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