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How major abortion laws compare, state by state

by Erica HensleyJessica Washington May 1, 2024

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years recognized a nationwide, constitutional abortion right. The 6-3 decision in Jackson Women’s Health Organization vs. Dobbs means that each state is now free to fashion its own laws limiting abortion access or banning it altogether. 

Currently, abortion is completely illegal, with few exceptions, in 14 states. The only place in the Southeast to access legal abortion after six weeks gestation is North Carolina, which bans abortion after 12 weeks.

Ten states that had so-called “trigger laws” intended to outlaw abortion when and if the Supreme Court reversed Roe, have completely banned the procedure. Two more states — Wyoming and Utah — also have trigger laws on the books, but they are tied up in court and abortion remains legal for the time being.


Indiana and West Virginia became the first states to pass new laws fully banning abortion. Other states — including Georgia, historically a hub of abortion access in the South — have enacted six-week bans, essentially allowing abortion only up to two weeks after a missed period. 

On the flip side, some states reacted to Dobbs by enacting measures to protect abortion access. Kansas became the first, as 59 percent of voters in August, 2022, rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for abortion bans. Later in the year, voters in Michigan, California and Vermont voted to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions. In early 2023, the Minnesota legislature became the first to pass a bill, which the governor signed into law, guaranteeing the right to abortion. 

As some states continue to enact restrictions and others work to codify abortion rights, the current landscape is confusing and time-consuming for pregnant people to navigate. Our interactive map highlights four main types of abortion restrictions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using data from the Guttmacher Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Many states had long planned for the fall of Roe. Across the U.S. in 2021, state legislatures enacted the most-ever abortion restrictions, and more followed in 2022

These restrictions run the gamut from outright abortion bans to laws that prohibit abortions based on a pregnant person’s reason for wanting to end a pregnancy. An estimated one-third of all women of reproductive age live in states where abortion is now banned.

Lawmakers in multiple states have also passed legislation making it more difficult to access medication abortions, which account for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., even as the federal government loosened restrictions, allowing providers to prescribe the pills via telemedicine and deliver them through the mail.

This map focuses on three broad categories of abortion restrictions: outright and telemedicine abortion bans, waiting periods and insurance restrictions.

Glossary of terms

Abortion Bans

These laws outlaw abortion after a certain point in pregnancy or prohibit specific methods of abortion.

Insurance Restrictions

These are state laws limiting when, or if, private health insurance plans may pay for abortion procedures. Most states block public funds, such as the state Medicaid program, from paying for abortion, often with exceptions for life endangerment, rape and incest. Federal law prevents federal money from funding abortions. People in states with insurance 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 in 1973.

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.

Waiting period

A period of time required between receiving pre-abortion counseling and the procedure itself, some carrying an in-person appointment requirement.

Telemedicine

The federal government formally allowed medication abortions by telemedicine starting in 2021. Medication abortion uses pills instead of an in-clinic procedure to end a pregnancy. Over the past few years, this form of abortion has become more common, now accounting for more than half of all abortions in the U.S., and even more in some states like Mississippi (70%) and Wyoming (97%). Though the federal government allows medication abortion to be prescribed through telemedicine, many states require in-person visits — often, multiple — to obtain the pills.


Editor's Note: This post is periodically updated and was last updated at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday, May 1, 2024.


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