The current landscape of abortion laws in the United States

united states map, abortion

With the potential overturn of Roe v. Wade looming, many are wondering what the future of abortion in the United States may be. If Roe is upheld, the status of many state laws will be in question, with states unable to implement trigger laws to protect most preborn children. Many laws have been enacted in an attempt to protect preborn lives across the nation, yet these have been limited by Roe and similar Supreme Court decisions.

The Wall Street Journal featured an article explaining various protection laws, and where each state currently stands. Though the Journal failed to point it out, polling regularly shows that most Americans favor restrictions on abortion, including informed consent laws, ultrasound laws, gestational restrictions, waiting periods, parental consent laws, and bans on taxpayer funding for abortion. Only a tiny percentage of Americans claim to support abortion with no limits and taxpayer funding.

Gestational limits on abortion

The vast majority of states — 44, in fact — limit when abortions can be committed, meaning only six states allow abortion to be committed throughout all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. Those are Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

Twenty states ban abortion after “viability,” currently considered to be 24 weeks gestation. Yet “viability” is increasingly shown to be a meaningless term, especially as medical advances allow premature babies as young as 21 weeks to survive. Viability is therefore more of a political concept than a scientific one.

An additional five states explicitly begin to protect preborn children at 24 weeks, with 15 states enacting protections after 22 weeks, and one state — Mississippi — enacting protections after 20 weeks. Texas has enacted those protections once a preborn child’s heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks gestation. Oklahoma has more protections for preborn children than any other state.

Informed consent laws

Laws requiring abortion facilities to ensure that women seeking abortions receive informed consent beforehand have been steadily growing. This is, in large part, due to the abortion industry’s culture of dishonesty. It is not unusual for abortion staffers to lie to women or withhold information about fetal development, to refuse to let them see ultrasounds of their children or hear the heartbeat, or to downplay or refuse to offer women life-affirming alternatives to abortion. Informed consent laws are needed specifically for these reasons; someone who isn’t aware of support available, or who has been lied to about the development of her child, doesn’t have the ability to truly give informed consent.

According to the Journal, 27 states have waiting period for abortion after the mother receives counseling, while a pre-abortion ultrasound is mandatory in 17 states. Though the abortion industry has argued that ultrasound laws are invasive, they have long been a standard part of the abortion process. Prior to the advent of the “no-test” abortion pill protocol, abortionists performed an ultrasound to accurately date the woman’s pregnancy and to determine which abortion procedure they need to commit.

In addition to an ultrasound required in 17 states, eight states require the abortionist to give the woman the option to see the image before committing the abortion. Six states require the woman to see the image while the abortionist describes it.

Where abortion can be committed, who has to participate, and how it is funded

Seventeen states require abortions after a specific gestation to be committed in a hospital. Typically, this is 20 weeks, though it can be later.

Additionally, 33 states, plus Washington, D.C., have restrictions on Medicaid coverage. Though the Hyde Amendment bans federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, state Medicaid programs can still give their own funding to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, or allow abortion to be covered under Medicaid.

Finally, 30 states allow health care institutions, without any restrictions, to refuse all participation in abortions. In California, this is only permitted if it is a religious organization, while 13 additional states allow private institutions to refuse participation in abortion. All 44 of these states allow individual health care providers to opt out via conscience protection laws.

These protections enjoy significant support among Americans, but the majority would go even further in supporting protections for preborn children, should Roe v. Wade come to an end.

“Like” Live Action News on Facebook for more pro-life news and commentary!

What is Live Action News?

Live Action News is pro-life news and commentary from a pro-life perspective. Learn More

Contact for questions, corrections, or if you are seeking permission to reprint any Live Action News content.

GUEST ARTICLES: To submit a guest article to Live Action News, email with an attached Word document of 800-1000 words. Please also attach any photos relevant to your submission if applicable. If your submission is accepted for publication, you will be notified within three weeks. Guest articles are not compensated. (See here for Open License Agreement.) Thank you for your interest in Live Action News!

To Top