The most vulnerable human beings are now protected by ‘trigger laws’ in these states

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With the Supreme Court having officially overturned both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, returning the issue to states to decide, many wonder what this will mean for abortion in their states. A number of states already had “trigger laws” in place — legislation that would go into effect immediately, should Roe ever fall. These are those states.


In 2019, Arkansas passed the Arkansas Human Life Protection Act, which included a provision activating the law if Roe was overturned. The law protects preborn children except in cases necessary to save the life of the mother (read more here about why it isn’t necessary), and penalties are, again, only applied to the abortionist. All that is left is for Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to certify it.

When the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe went public in May, Rutledge said certifying the law would be “the honor and privilege” of her lifetime. Governor Asa Hutchinson also celebrated the ruling on Twitter.

“For decades I have said Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided,” he wrote. “Today, the Supreme Court overturned the abortion ruling and returned the issue to the states. Arkansas is a pro-life state, and we are able now to protect life.”


Idaho’s trigger law is poised to take effect 30 days from now. Abortionists who commit an abortion will face a felony, and two to five years in prison. Under the first offense, their medical license will be revoked for six months, and any offenses after that will result in permanent revocation. Exceptions are permitted for cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life (all medically unnecessary exceptions).

Idaho Governor Brad Little praised the Supreme Court this morning in a statement.

“The decision provides clarity around landmark cases at the center of passionate debate in our country for nearly five decades. This is now clear – the ‘right’ to an abortion was a judicial creation,” he said. “We are being called to support women and our fellow community members in extraordinary new ways, and I’m confident Idahoans are ready to meet this responsibility with love and compassion.”

Editor’s Note 8/26/2022: The Idaho Supreme Court ruled that while abortionists’ litigation against the law moves forward, the trigger law can take effect as scheduled. The law went into effect on August 25, 2022.


A 2019 trigger law will take effect in Kentucky, protecting preborn children except to save the life of the mother, or to prevent serious injury. The law says it will take effect immediately upon the reversal of Roe. Still, the ACLU has vowed to fight to make abortion a right in the Kentucky state constitution.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky in Congress, celebrated the ruling. “Millions of Americans have spent half a century praying, marching and working towards today’s historic victories for the rule of law and for innocent life,” he said. “I have been proud to stand with them throughout our long journey and I share their joy today.”

Attorney General Daniel Cameron also released a statement, calling for pro-lifers to continue their commitment to serving women and families. “We are entering a new era. No longer will unelected judges make abortion policy for the Commonwealth. Instead, our elected representatives will be able to make public policy that reflects the values of Kentuckians and our deeply held respect for unborn life,” he said. “Together, we must commit ourselves to caring for the next generation of Kentuckians who will now have a chance to live their lives because Roe v. Wade is no more. Their lives, and those of their mothers and families, are precious and must be met with all the compassion, kindness, and care that we can provide.”

Editor’s Note 8/26/2022: A Kentucky state court blocked enforcement of the trigger law on June 30, 2022, following legal action from ACLU. On August 1, an appeals court allowed the law to go into effect as the legal challenge moves forward.


In a statement, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the trigger law protecting the state’s preborn children will take effect immediately.

“As noted in both my legal brief to the Supreme Court and the majority’s opinion: the Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” he said. “Because of the Court’s ruling in this case about a Mississippi law limiting abortions after 15 weeks of gestation with exceptions for health emergencies and fetal abnormalities, Louisiana’s trigger law banning abortion is now in effect. My office and I will do everything in our power to ensure the laws of Louisiana that have been passed to protect the unborn are enforceable, even if we have to go back to court.”

Just this week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed legislation updating the state’s trigger law, making it effective immediately upon Roe’s reversal. There are exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger, but none for rape or incest. Women are exempt from prosecution, but abortionists can face heavy fines and incarceration.

Editor’s Note, 7/5/22: A judge has temporarily blocked Louisiana’s trigger law from going into effect.

Editor’s Note: 8/26/22: An appeals court ruled on July 29, 2022, that the state’s trigger law can take effect. On August 1, 2022, that law did take effect, and the abortion businesses are preparing to move out of state.


Mississippi’s trigger law requires a certification from the attorney general in order to take effect, and it must happen within 10 days of the Supreme Court decision. Sen. Joey Fillingane, who authored the legislation, told WTOK it’s a mere legality, and as Attorney General Lynn Fitch is pro-life, it will certainly be certified quickly. “It’s no decision making authority involved in that certification process, it’s just a legality,” he said. “She would have a period to certify that, in fact, the opinion has been issued, that it is been filed in the court clerk’s office, and that is now the law of the land.”

Fitch wrote about the news on Twitter. “Today marks a new era in American history. Roe v. Wade is finally behind us,” Fitch wrote. “This decision is a victory, not only for women and children, but for the Court itself. Now, our work to empower women truly begins.”

Governor Tate Reeves also celebrated the ruling in a statement. “Let’s be clear: this decision will directly result in more hearts beating, more strollers pushed, more report cards given, more little league games played, and more lives well lived. It is a joyous day! Tomorrow, we will wake to a new world, enthusiastically prepared to take on the challenges ahead and to take every step necessary to support mothers and children,” he said, adding, “We stand on the shoulders of giants. This win has been achieved thanks to the tireless efforts of so many over decades. Thank you to the lawyers who argued this case for us, passionate citizens who pushed this issue for years, and those who prayed for this day for many decades. I urge my fellow Mississippians to rejoice today and keep praying as the work is not done.”


Attorney General Eric Schmitt acted immediately after the Supreme Court decision was announced. An opinion from Schmitt, needed to activate the trigger law, was signed mere moments later. “Following the SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Missouri has just become the first in the country to effectively end abortion with our AG opinion signed moments ago,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is a monumental day for the sanctity of life.”

Missouri Governor Mike Parsons also released a statement after signing the “Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act,” which protects preborn children from abortion unless there is a medical emergency. The abortionist, not the woman undergoing the procedure, would be the one held responsible.

“Nothing in the text, history, or tradition of the United States Constitution gave un-elected federal judges authority to regulate abortion,” Parsons said. “We are happy that the U.S. Supreme Court has corrected this error and returned power to the people and the states to make these decisions.”

North Dakota

North Dakota passed its trigger law in 2007, banning abortion within 30 days of Roe being overturned. The 30-day countdown begins once the attorney general certifies that the Supreme Court has allowed states to regulate abortion; after it takes effect, it will be a Class C felony to commit an abortion, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Exceptions are included for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother (again, see here on the exceptions).

In a statement, Attorney General Drew Wrigley said his office is evaluating the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, and will respond within 30 days.

Governor Doug Burgum, meanwhile, released a statement praising the decision.

“Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision returns power to the states where it belongs,” he said. “Our administration has consistently supported pro-life legislation and this decision is a victory for the many North Dakotans who have fought so hard and for so long to protect the unborn in our state. We will now work diligently with the North Dakota Attorney General’s Office to fulfill our constitutional duty by carrying out the 2007 legislation that is triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We must now turn to prioritizing women’s health, including expectant mothers and children in need.”

Unfortunately, the trigger law was blocked just one day before it was going to take effect. After the Red River Women’s Clinic, the only abortion facility in the state, filed a lawsuit, Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick agreed to place an injunction against it. The facility had already moved across state lines.


Oklahoma had already passed legislation protecting preborn children based on the Texas Heartbeat Act, but a trigger law was still in place. Whereas before, it had been a civil offense, committing an abortion is now a criminal matter. Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat confirmed it has already taken effect in a tweet. “Just received this from the AG,” he wrote, including an image of the certification. “Our ‘trigger bill’ has been triggered. The AG has now officially certified this and Oklahoma can immediately start enforcing laws on the books that value life!”

Attorney General John O’Connor also released a statement praising the ruling. “My first major act as Oklahoma’s Attorney General was to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn their decisions in Roe and Casey,” he said. “Today, in an historic opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court did just that. After almost 50 years, and over 60 million lost lives, the U.S. Supreme Court finally returned policy making on this life and death issue to the people. I am grateful the Court demonstrated the courage to issue this landmark decision in the face of an unprecedented campaign of violence and intimidation.”

Governor Kevin Stitt released a statement on Twitter saying he is proud to be called America’s most pro-life governor. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the country following Oklahoma’s lead to protect life,” he said.

South Dakota

In South Dakota, the trigger law protecting preborn human beings was written to go into effect as soon as Roe is overturned, meaning abortion is now illegal there. The only exception is if abortion is needed to save the life of the mother (which is not medically necessary).

Governor Kristi Noem celebrated the fall of Roe in a statement. “Every abortion always had two victims: the unborn child and the mother. Today’s decision will save unborn lives in South Dakota, but there is more work to do,” she said. “We must do what we can to help mothers in crisis know that there are options and resources available for them. Together, we will ensure that abortion is not only illegal in South Dakota – it is unthinkable.”


Tennessee has a trigger law which will take effect 30 days from today. The Human Life Protection Act was passed in 2019, and makes it illegal to commit an abortion unless it was necessary to save the life of the mother (see more here about why it isn’t necessary), or prevent serious bodily injury. It will be a Class C felony to commit, or attempt to commit, an abortion. Women undergoing the procedure would not be subject to prosecution.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released a statement on Twitter, celebrating the fall of Roe but cautioning more work would be needed in upcoming months.

“Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of a hopeful chapter for our country. After years of heartfelt prayer & thoughtful policy, America has a historic opportunity to support women, children & strong families while reconciling the pain & loss caused by Roe,” he wrote. “We have spent years preparing for the possibility that authority would return to the states, and Tennessee’s laws will provide the maximum possible protection for both mother and child. In the coming days we will address the full impacts of this decision for Tennessee.”


Texas was, notably, the first state to pass stringent protections for preborn children by passing the Texas Heartbeat Act. Now, with a 2021 trigger law in place, abortion is an official felony, with the only exceptions to save the life of the mother or prevent serious bodily injury. Abortionists face life in prison or a $100,000 fine for violating the law.

The ban will officially take place 30 days after the Supreme Court issues a judgment on the decision, which Attorney General Ken Paxton explained in a statement.

“Today, the Court issued its opinion reversing Roe, but it has yet to issue its judgment,” he explained. “A judgment is a legal document distinct from the Court’s opinion. The Court will issue its judgment only after the window for the litigants to file a motion for rehearing has closed. A judgment can issue in about a month, or longer if the Court considers a motion for rehearing. So while it is clear that the Act will take effect, we cannot calculate exactly when until the Court issues its judgment. My office will publicly announce an effective date for the Act as soon as possible—and we look forward to doing so.”

Paxton still celebrated by declaring June 24th an agency holiday “in recognition of this momentous decision,” and the staff was sent home. “Today we celebrate life and the protection of the unborn with the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade,” First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster wrote in an internal memo obtained by the Dallas Morning News. “Going forward, today will be an annual agency holiday to commemorate the sanctity of life.”

Governor Greg Abbott also released a statement about the ruling, saying it was the correct decision and that Texas is a pro-life state.

“The U.S. Supreme Court correctly overturned Roe v. Wade and reinstated the right of states to protect innocent, unborn children. Texas is a pro-life state, and we have taken significant action to protect the sanctity of life,” he said. “Texas has also prioritized supporting women’s healthcare and expectant mothers in need to give them the necessary resources so that they can choose life for their child. I signed laws that extended Medicaid health care coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women’s health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward our Alternatives to Abortion program. This critical program provides counseling, mentoring, care coordination, and material assistance, such as car seats, diapers, and housing to mothers in need.

“Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need.”


The trigger law in Utah was written to take effect as soon as Roe is overturned, making abortion illegal except in cases of rape, incest, the life of the mother, and other serious medical complications. In order for it to take effect, the Utah legislature general counsel must certify it, and that is expected to happen within weeks.

“The Supreme Court pronouncement is clear. It has returned the question of abortion to the states,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said in a statement. ”And the Utah legislature has answered that question. My office will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.”

Meanwhile, Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association and Planned Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune that they will remain open and continue committing abortions for as long as they can.

Editor’s Note, 7/5/22: A judge has placed a temporary halt on Utah’s trigger law. On  July 11, a judge ruled that the law would remain blocked as a legal challenge against it continues.


A trigger law was passed in Wyoming this March, in which abortion will become illegal five days after Roe is overturned. The countdown begins after Governor Mark Gordon certifies that Roe has fallen.

On Twitter, Gordon indicated he had already signed the certification. “This is a decisive win for those who have fought for the rights of the unborn for the past 50 years,” he said. “I signed Wyoming’s prohibition on abortion bill because I believe that the decision to regulate abortions should be left to the states.”

Editor’s Note 8/26/2022: A state judge issued a preliminary injunction on Wednesday blocking the state’s trigger law from taking effect. 

As time goes on, other pro-life states will likely implement new laws protecting preborn children from abortion. But for now, citizens of these 13 states have much to celebrate.

Editor’s Note: This post may be updated as needed.

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