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Health , Politics & Policy , US

How Major Abortion Laws Compare State by State: Map

by Jessica WashingtonNov 30, 2021

In a year marked by the passage of dozens of anti-abortion bills, on Sept. 1 Texas became the first state since Roe v. Wade to implement a de facto ban on abortions as early as six weeks of gestation — usually before a pregnancy is apparent. Immediately, advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate across the country geared up for continued battles in the statehouses and courts. And after it was enacted, abortions performed in Texas dropped by 50%, by one measure.

Two months later, on Nov. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court started hearing oral arguments in two challenges to the law, from the U.S. Justice Department and from abortion providers in the state. The challenges were based on the premise that it’s unconstitutional because it violates Roe v. Wade and because its very design renders legal challenges all but impossible.

Now, just a month after that, Roe v. Wade itself is at risk.

On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court will hear a case from Mississippi over its 2018 law banning abortion after 15 weeks—about nine weeks before the point of viability. It’s the first serious challenge to Roe since that decision, and the first time the Court—which currently has a solid conservative majority – has ever considered a case over a state law banning abortion that early in the gestation period.

The United States has already become a patchwork of abortion restrictions, and it can be confusing to navigate them and difficult to stay up to date. In the first six months of 2021, over 90 anti-abortion laws were enacted—more than any other year since Roe v. Wade—according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research center focused on reproductive and sexual health. 

These restrictions run the gamut from outright abortion bans to laws that prohibit abortions based on a pregnant person’s reasoning for wanting to end a pregnancy. Lawmakers in multiple states also passed legislation making it more difficult to access medication abortions, a safe and highly effective method of termination in early pregnancy, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The interactive map below highlights three main types of abortion restrictions in all 50 states, using a Guttmacher Institute database of current abortion laws

A comprehensive list of restrictions for each state struck us as too much and too confusing to include on a single map. So we focused on three categories of abortion restrictions: targeted restrictions of abortion providers (known as TRAP laws), abortion bans and insurance restrictions. We chose these categories because they represent some of the biggest developments in the abortion debate in the last few decades. 

Hover over each state on the map to view these types of restrictions in place there as of this writing.

This map does not include other barriers to pregnancy termination, such as mandated “counseling” requirements, which force patients to hear often medically inaccurate material on abortions and parental consent requirements. 

Before we get to the map, here’s a quick glossary to help you understand it, starting with the three categories:

TRAP (Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers) Laws 

As the name suggests, these laws specifically target providers rather than abortion seekers, and  restrict their ability to provide abortions. These laws are often created under the guise of “protecting women’s health” and can include policies that require providers to include a second physician in an abortion procedure. These laws affect not only providers, but also the ability of patients to procure care.

Abortion Bans 

These laws ban abortion after a certain point in pregnancy or ban specific methods of abortion and include, perhaps most notably, the Texas six-week ban. 

Insurance Restrictions 

These are limitations on the ability of health insurance plans to pay for abortion procedures. Most states block public funds, such as the state Medicaid program, from paying for abortion procedures, often with exceptions for life endangerment, rape and incest. Federal law prevents federal public spending on abortions. Therefore, people in states with such restrictions often have to pay out of pocket for abortions, which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars

Roe v. Wade

A landmark Supreme Court case that enshrined the constitutional right to an abortion. 

“Partial-birth” abortion 

A non-medical term generally used to describe a relatively rare form of surgical abortion used in the late second and third trimester of pregnancy. However, in some states, so-called “partial-birth” abortion bans have been applied to other more common surgical procedures. 

Viability

Viability is the point in a pregnancy when a fetus could survive outside of the womb. Viability generally occurs after 24 weeks of gestation. 

Exceptions 

Looking at the map, for some states, you will notice one (*) or two (**) asterisks added to restrictions in two of the three categories, state Medicaid funding limits and abortion ban exceptions. Here’s what those asterisks indicate:

State Medicaid funding limits

* State Medicaid funding is limited to abortions performed due to life endangerment, rape and incest.

** State Medicaid funding is limited to abortions performed due to life endangerment, rape, incest, fetal abnormality (Virginia); life endangerment, rape, incest, fetal abnormality and threats to patient physical health (West Virginia); life endangerment, rape, incest and threat to patient physical health (Wisconsin); life endangerment only (South Dakota).

Abortion ban exceptions

* The ban is in effect except in case of threat to patient’s physical health.

** The ban is in effect except in case of rape or incest (Arkansas, Utah); fetal abnormality (Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Utah); life endangerment only (Michigan).

No Restrictions in These Categories

Colorado, Vermont and Oregon do not have any abortion restrictions in the three categories we used for this map. Their text boxes say “no restrictions in these categories.” However, that does not mean these states are entirely restriction-free. For example, in Colorado, minors are required to notify their parents before they’re able to recieve an abortion. 


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