With the news of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the bench, talk of Roe v. Wade getting repealed naturally comes to mind due to President Donald Trump's presidency. It's not a fun conversation to have, but it's the reality that this country is living in. So if Roe v. Wade is overturned, these states might ban abortion — and things could get very ugly very fast.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade gave women in this country the right to an abortion on the federal level that's protected under the Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy. But reproductive rights advocates are concerned that this case may be overturned if the Supreme Court bench swings right following Trump's appointment of a new justice to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy, who has famously been a swing vote who tends to favor reproductive rights. If Roe is overturned, the issue of abortion isn't immediately illegal — it would instead be decided on the state level, meaning that states could choose whether or not to allow abortion within their borders. But since some states have already made it very difficult to get an abortion, there are definitely some areas where getting a legal abortion will be completely off the table.
There's four states that will immediately ban abortions at the drop of the hat — quite literally the moment that the Supreme Court makes their decision. Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have “trigger laws” in place that would automatically ban abortion if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, according to The Guardian. In other words, these states have prepared in advance for this day to happen.
And there are a ton of other states that already have super restrictive laws concerning abortion that would most likely go down the same path that those four aforementioned states are set to do. There are 21 states that have "severe" limits on when a woman can get an abortion, banning abortions prior to viability per The Guardian, which is illegal under Roe. For example, in Iowa, it's illegal to get an abortion if a doctor can hear a heartbeat, which is typically around six weeks. The problem with this particular restriction is that a woman usually can't tell that she's pregnant at six weeks — unless she happens to take a pregnancy test in that window of time — which kind of makes this particular ban a backwards ban on abortion itself. The ban is currently being challenged in court, so there's a chance that it may not stand. But all of these states could strike up abortion bans should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
But there are also states that will definitely protect abortion if the country's highest court decides to overturn the federal right to abortion. Maine, California, Nevada, Delaware, and Maryland all currently have laws in place that will protect abortion rights. There are also a few states — Hawaii, Alaska, New York, and Washington — which had passed laws allowing abortion access prior to Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which could mean they would legalize it on the state level again, should Roe fall. So if you live in those states you're fine, at least for now — but the rest of the country is seemingly at risk if Roe v. Wade winds up getting overturned.
Even though Roe v. Wade hasn't been officially overturned yet, it's becoming more likely that this will happen because of Justice Kennedy's retirement, which was announced on June 27. In a statement from the Supreme Court Office of Public Information On June 27 Kennedy wrote, "It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court."
Justice Kennedy's impending absence from the bench, which is set to officially take place on July 31, leaves room for President Donald Trump to appoint a new justice of his choice. Trump has repeatedly said, both during his presidential campaign and as president, that he'll pick judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Trump said in a debate against Hillary Clinton in Oct. 2016 that,
Well, if we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that’s really what’s going to be — that will happen. And that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this: It will go back to the states, and the states will then make a determination.
Trump's already nominated one judge to the Supreme Court during his time as president — Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed by the Senate in April 2017. And now he's going to have to pick another, which he has made very clear will be a pro-life candidate that has plans to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Once that happens, this case and many others will likely be at risk of becoming null and void. I surely hope that this won't happen, but I can tell you for a fact that after the 2016 election, truly anything is possible.