News and Commentary

These 4 States Have ‘Trigger Laws’ Ready To Ban Abortion If ‘Roe’ Is Overturned

If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, four “Trigger States” have laws that would make abortion illegal: Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Ed Chervenak, director of the UNO Survey Research Center at the University of New Orleans, pointed out that overturning Roe would take time, stating, “There’s a lot of unknown. Courts are not self-starters. Cases and controversies have to be brought to them. If it gets up to that point where it moves through the Federal District Court system, then the court can decide we’ll hear that case.” Chervenak noted that there was no guarantee that if the Supreme Court heard a case that could overturn Roe, it would decide to overturn the abortion case. He said, “Courts don’t want to be willy-nilly overturning decisions because then they begin to lose the respect of the other branches of government and of the people so they’re very careful about precedent. So it could go either way to be honest.”

Still, the four states have laws on the books that could be implemented if Roe is overturned and the issue of abortion is left to individual states. In Louisiana, a 2006 act banned all abortions statewide, except when a mother’s life is threatened. It also would punish anyone who performs or aides in an abortion with up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine. In Mississippi, the banning of abortion would take place 10 days after the state’s attorney general determined in writing that the Supreme Court had overturned Roe.

In North Dakota, the law banning abortion states that the “statute becomes effective on the date the legislative council approves by motion the recommendation of the attorney general … that it is reasonably probable that this act [banning abortion] would be upheld as constitutional.”

In South Dakota, the law would become “effective on the date that the states are recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court to have the authority to prohibit abortion at all stages of pregnancy.”

Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin have laws against abortion that were completely or partially blocked by state courts based on Roe v. Wade. If Roe is overturned, state officials could file lawsuits asking the courts to activate the bans.

21 states have restrictions as to when a pregnant woman can get an abortion based on how far the fetus has developed. According to The Guardian, 24 states have pro-life legislators.