What Happens if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned? Abortion Access by State

A majority of the Supreme Court has voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, according to a draft opinion obtained by Politico.

The document, which has not been independently verified, shows that the court is preparing to overrule the landmark decision that has granted the right to an abortion in the U.S. for the past half a century.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," the draft document written by Justice Samuel Alito reads, as quoted by Politico. "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Alito writes, mentioning another landmark ruling in reproductive rights, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which in 1992 re-affirmed Roe v. Wade.

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives," Alito added.

Four other Republican-appointed judges—Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—supported the decision, a source told Politico, forming a majority.

Roe v Wade Supreme Court
A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court early Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The release of the draft, a 98-page document, is an unprecedented leak in the history of the Supreme Court. But the vote could still change in the next two months, the time it is estimated to take before a final decision by the Supreme Court is announced.

But if the draft remains mostly unchanged and votes do not shift, the consequences of the court's ruling on the country will be tremendous.

What States Would Block Access To Abortions?

With Roe v. Wade in 1973, the Supreme Court established that abortion was a fundamental right, allowing women absolute rights to get an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy and limited rights between the third and six month of pregnancy.

Overturning the landmark ruling would mean that the decision on the right to an abortion would be up to individual states.

While in some states abortions will remain legal, half of all states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, are expected to move immediately to impose broad bans. Twenty-two states already have pre-Roe bans and "trigger laws" in their books that would ban abortions if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

States Where Abortion Would Be Banned

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a group that supports the legal protection of abortion as a fundamental right, estimates that 24 states would move to prohibit or severely restrict access to abortions if Roe v. Wade was overturned or weakened. These states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Another group, the Guttmacher Institute, estimates that 26 states would move to ban or restrict access to abortions in total, with 22 having laws and constitutional amendments already in place that make them certain to ban abortions as soon as they're allowed. Four states, including Florida, Indiana, Montana and Nebraska, are expected by the group to impose bans on abortions without federal protections in place. The list does not include Pennsylvania and North Carolina, whose position the group said is uncertain.

According to news company Axios, abortions would be banned in 13 states in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned. The list includes Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

States With A Codified Right To Abortion

On the other side, there are at least 17 states which have already moved to protect abortion rights within their borders in case Roe v. Wade is overturned.

According to Axios, the states with a codified right to abortion are: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island and District of Columbia. Hawaii also has a codified right to abortion.

State With No Immediate Ban or Protection

According to Axios, some 20 states remain with no immediate legislation protecting or banning abortion rights. These are: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire.

Some of these states are expected by other groups, such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Guttmacher Institute, to impose bans on abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Abortion "Deserts" And Abortion "Havens"

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, such restrictions would cause the country to be divided into "abortion deserts," where terminating a pregnancy is illegal, and "abortion havens"—states that will continue to provide care and that women seeking an abortion who live in more prohibitive states will likely flock to.

This dynamic is already taking place in Texas, a state that has significantly reduced access to abortions. But we already know of cases of women who are unable to circumvent restrictions and bans being unable to travel to access abortion for either financial or logistical reasons. This is likely to happen on a larger scale if Roe v. Wade is overturned and access to abortion limited in half the country.

A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would disproportionately affect young women in their 20s and Black women, the groups accounting for the majority of abortions in 2019.

The U.S. would be one of only four countries in the world to restrict access to abortions in the past 30 years, joining Poland, El Salvador and Nicaragua.