on population, reproductive health & ethics

Send this page to a friend! (click here)

Associated Press, October 5, 2004

Thirty States Ready to Ban Abortion if Roe Overturned

DATELINE: WASHINGTON -- Thirty states are poised to make abortion illegal within a year if the Supreme Court reversed its 1973 ruling establishing a woman's legal right to an abortion, an advocacy group said Tuesday.

The Center for Reproductive Rights said some states have old laws on the books that would be triggered by the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Others have language in their state constitutions or strongly anti-abortion legislatures that would act quickly if the federal protection for abortion was ended and the issue reverted to the states.

"The building blocks are already in place to recriminalize abortion," said Nancy Northup, the center's president.

The group's report comes less than a month before the presidential election, which those on both sides of the abortion issue say will be critical in determining the future of the Roe decision.

Currently, it is believed that five of the nine justices support abortion rights, but that balance could be tipped if President George W. Bush, in a second term, nominates a new justice who reflects his anti-abortion views. Democratic contender John Kerry is a strong supporter of abortion rights.

The center found that 18 states had pre-Roe laws totally or partially banning abortion. In some cases those laws have been blocked by a court, but could easily be revived if Roe were overturned. Alabama is one state where the abortion ban was never enjoined by the courts, and could be immediately enforced.

Other states such as Ohio don't have abortion bans, but both the legislature and the governor oppose abortion and without Roe there would likely be a rush to pass legislation banning abortion, the center said.

It concluded that 21 states are at high risk, and nine states at middle risk, of banning abortion within a year of Roe being overturned. More than 70 million women of childbearing age would be affected, the center said.

Another 20 states, including Massachusetts, which has a pre-Roe ban, would likely retain abortion rights because of other statutory protections or the makeup of their legislatures.

"We are really, I think, in some peril now," said Representative Louise Slaughter of New York, one of 11 abortion rights lawmakers to attend the center's Capitol Hill news conference.

The only Republican was Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut, who said that Roe v. Wade was "an extraordinarily important document" and "we need to elect more pro-choice Republicans to the Congress."

The 21 states considered at high risk of banning abortion were: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The nine at middle risk: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

The 20 at lower risk: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

<< Associated Press -- 10/5/04 >>

Send this page to a friend! (click here)


This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.