The US Supreme Court declared abortion was legal and that women had a constitutional right to the procedure with the landmark case Roe v. Wade in 1973.
But the reality of that right today varies considerably across the states.
Since then, antiabortion activists and lawmakers have found ways around Roe to make it as difficult as possible for women to get the procedure in most states.
Many legal scholars don’t think the Supreme Court would outright overturn Roe — even if President Donald Trump gets his second nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, on the bench. The more likely route is that abortion rights will slowly erode over time until only women in blue states (or rich women who can travel there) can get them.
Here’s a look at some of the major state laws that are restricting access to abortion across the country:
Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws
Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers — or TRAP — laws impose strict requirements on abortion clinics and providers. The standards are frequently so specific that clinics often can’t afford the changes, and end up closing down altogether.
Nine states specify the size of the procedure rooms, seven specify the width of the clinic corridors, and eight require physicians to have admission privileges at a nearby hospital in case complications arise — even though less than 0.5% of abortions result in complications that require a hospital visit.
An Alabama law mandated that abortion clinics cannot be within 2,000 yards from a school before a judge struck it down.
The most famous law, Texas’s HB2, went all the way to the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. In June 2016, the high court struck it down in a 5-3 decision.
The justices concluded that the law “provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
Though SCOTUS deemed Texas’s TRAP law unconstitutional, 23 states still have laws on the books that “regulate abortion providers and go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading research and policy organization on reproductive health.
Specific week bans
One of the most common ways to restrict abortions is to set limits on when women can get them. Specific week bans, the most popular of which is the 20-week ban, only allow abortions before 20 weeks into the pregnancy, for example.
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court didn’t specify when abortions were legal, deciding at the time to vaguely make it unconstitutional to outlaw them up until the fetus was “viable,” since the science hadn’t (and still hasn’t) determined at the time when that was, medically speaking.
States have seized on this ambiguity and passed specific week bans. A whopping 43 states have passed some type of gestational limit, usually only allowing exceptions to if the mother’s life is in danger.
According to 2014 data, 89% of elective abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. The vast majority of the 10% that occur after are for medical reasons.
Fetal heartbeat limits
In December 2016, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that would ban abortion after the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected.
Gov. John Kasich vetoed the so-called heartbeat bill, saying it was “clearly contrary to the Supreme Court of the United States’ current rulings on abortion,” and that signing it into law would ensure the “State of Ohio will be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars” in a losing lawsuit. (He also signed a 20-week ban into law that same day).
Doctors can detect a fetus’ heartbeat as early as six weeks into pregnancy. Women usually don’t find out they’re pregnant until four to seven weeks in — meaning the bill could have left many women unable to get a safe, legal abortion in the state because they wouldn’t have known they were pregnant.
Several other states have passed or tried to pass fetal heartbeat laws, but governors have vetoed them, the bills have died in committee, or courts have struck them down. No state currently has such a law on the books.