Legal battles over abortion laws ramping up in these 6 states

Health

(NewsNation) — Increasingly, state trigger laws either banning or restricting abortion are taking effect and being met with new resistance efforts.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the issue now falls on the states to individually decide what restrictions will surround the procedure.

The White House is still grappling with what it can do in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, but it appears the battle over abortion rights will primarily be fought at the state level in legislatures and courts.

So far in these six states, legal battles are either underway or potentially on the horizon.

Florida

Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban was blocked and then quickly reinstated Tuesday after an appeal from the state attorney general in a lawsuit challenging the restriction.

Judge John C. Cooper issued the order temporarily halting the law after reproductive health providers argued that the state constitution guarantees the right to the procedure. The state appealed his order, automatically putting the law back into effect.

The law went into effect Friday before it was blocked. It prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save the pregnant woman’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Mississippi

A Mississippi judge has rejected a request by the state’s only abortion clinic to temporarily block a state law that would ban most abortions.

Judge Debbra K. Halford rejected the request Tuesday. Without other developments in the clinic’s lawsuit, the law will take effect Thursday.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization sought a temporary restraining order that would allow it to remain open, at least while the lawsuit remains in court.

Kansas

The Kansas State Supreme Court blocked enforcement of a 2015 legislative ban on a common second-trimester procedure, and abortion opponents fear a host of other rules could fall to legal challenges in the near future.

The GOP-controlled Legislature responded by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot for the Aug. 2 primary.

“The vote on abortion at the ballot level for voters in Kansas will be seen as a litmus test really for the issue across the country,” said The Hill’s National Political Reporter Julia Manchester.

If voters approve the amendment, the Legislature would still have to approve the new restrictions, and lawmakers are out of session until January 2023.

They can call themselves into special session with two-thirds majorities, but they’re likely to wait until after voters decide in the November general election whether to give Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly a second term.

Arkansas

Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert is pushing a measure that would make it illegal for companies to help pay for women to leave the state for an abortion. State lawmakers in Texas say they plan to do the same.

So far, a handful of corporations including Amazon, Disney and Apple have committed to help foot the bill for employees who must cross state lines to seek an abortion.

“We believe the state of Arkansas has an interest in these companies trying to come out here and undermine the will of the people to save human lives,” Rapert said.

Arkansas already had a law banning most abortions 20 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The state has several other bans that have been struck down or blocked by courts in recent years, including an outright abortion ban enacted last year that doesn’t include rape or incest exceptions. That ban has been blocked by a federal judge, and the state has appealed.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said in a meeting Friday that President Joe Biden is committed to fight any state laws criminalizing women for crossing state lines for an abortion.

“We also talked with him about protecting women’s access to receive medication through the mail,” Cooper said.

A 1973 North Carolina law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unenforceable after federal judges struck it down as unconstitutional in 2019 and 2021.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the 20-week ban could be restored. Legal experts say formal action would have to be taken to cancel the earlier court rulings striking it down.

Oklahoma

In a legal challenge, pro-abortion rights advocates are asking the Oklahoma State Supreme Court to block two abortion bans.

One was enacted in 1910 and restored after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. A newer law scheduled to take effect in August would make performing an abortion a felony.

“It is really critical the Supreme Court weigh in and we hope take very public action to ensure patients can receive care back again in Oklahoma,” said Emily Wales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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