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
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
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 >>
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