At Least 21 States Will Protect Babies From Abortions if Roe v. Wade is Overturned

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Dec 3, 2021   |   10:43AM   |   Washington, DC

At least 21 states immediately could ban the killing of unborn babies in abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Many hope the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthwhich the high court heard Wednesday, will spur the justices to reverse its disastrous 1973 ruling and allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.

If Roe v. Wade goes, abortions would not automatically become illegal across the United States. Instead, the power to protect unborn babies or keep abortion legal would return to the states.

Estimates vary about how many states would do what, but a new NPR report predicts that 21 states would ban all or most abortions immediately if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. The estimate is based on an analysis from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion research group.

According to the analysis, most southern and mid-western states would ban abortions, including Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. All of these states have trigger laws, or legislation to prohibit abortions immediately after Roe v. Wade is overturned. The laws include exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.

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Five additional states have pre-Roe abortion bans that would go back into effect if the case is overturned: Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin, the analysis found.

Another four states, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and South Carolina, have heartbeat laws that would ban most abortions, according to the report. Because of Roe, none of these states currently are allowed to enforce their laws.

In contrast, the analysis identified laws in 15 states and Washington, D.C. that would keep abortion on demand legal after Roe. Oregon and Vermont have laws allowing abortions for basically any reason up to birth, according to the report.

Other analyses have predicted anywhere from eight to 31 states would ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. In 2018, the pro-abortion group NARAL predicted 13 states would immediately ban abortions. A previous estimate by the Center for Reproductive Rights put the number at 31 states. Another analysis by attorney Paul Linton in the journal “Issues in Law and Medicine” in 2012 estimated between eight and 11 states would ban abortions.

On Wednesday, Mississippi solicitor general Scott Stewart told the Supreme Court that it should allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.

States are forced to legalize abortions for any reason up to viability under Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey – cases that have haunted the U.S. for decades, Stewart said. As a result, about 63 million unborn babies and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of mothers have died in supposedly “safe,” legal abortions.

“They have no basis in the Constitution,” Stewart told the court. “They have no home in our history or traditions. They’ve damaged the democratic process. They’ve poisoned the law. They’ve choked off compromise. For 50 years they’ve kept this court at the center of a political battle that it can never resolve. And 50 years on, they stand alone: Nowhere else does this court recognize a right to end a human life.”

In the past two decades, states have enacted hundreds of pro-life laws to protect unborn babies and mothers from abortion, according to Guttmacher research. In contrast, states have passed only 43 laws to expand abortions, the pro-abortion research group found.

These actions match with polls, which consistently show that a majority of Americans either want abortions to be banned or heavily limited.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roehundreds of thousands of babies could be spared from violent abortion deaths every year across America. In an amicus brief to the court, a group of 154 economists and researchers estimated that abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court overturns Roe and allows states to ban abortions again.

At issue in the Mississippi case is the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court likely will issue a ruling in the summer of 2022.