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Health , Movements , US

How major abortion laws compare, state by state

by Erica Hensley Jessica Washington September 26, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overruled the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, that for nearly 50 years recognized a nationwide, constitutional right to abortion. The 6-3 decision means that each state is now free to fashion its own laws limiting abortion access or even banning it altogether.  

The case decided by the Supreme Court addresses a challenge to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The decision was not a complete surprise; a draft of the decision was leaked to Politico in May.

Thirteen states have so-called “trigger laws” that codify complete abortion bans in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision. Since June, 10 of those have gone into effect, completely banning abortion. The other three are either held up in court battles or will go into effect soon. By mid-September, Indiana and West Virginia became the first two states to pass new laws completely banning abortion.

Other states have enacted 6-week bans, only allowing abortion up to two weeks after a missed period. 

Kansas became the first state to vote to protect abortion access, with 59 percent of voters in August rejecting a constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for abortion bans. Meanwhile, Indiana became the first state legislature to pass a new total ban, completely banning abortion in the state on Sept. 15. 

With compounding regulations and ongoing efforts to enact new restrictions in different states, the current landscape is confusing and time-consuming for pregnant people to navigate. The interactive map below highlights five main types of abortion restrictions in all 50 states, using Guttmacher Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation data. See below for further context.


Across the U.S. in 2021, state legislatures enacted the most-ever abortion restrictions. On Sept. 1 Texas became the first state since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 to implement a de facto ban on abortions as early as six weeks of gestation — before many people know they’re pregnant. Immediately, advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the abortion debate across the country geared up for continued battles in statehouses and courts. But the impact on pregnant Texans was immediate, where abortions dropped by 60% in the first month of the new law.

On Dec. 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case from Mississippi involving the state’s 2018 law banning abortion after 15 weeks — about nine weeks before the point of viability. It’s the first federal level abortion case that threatened to topple Roe, 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 26 states planned to completely outlaw abortion upon Roe’s fall. In 2021 alone, over 108 anti-abortion laws were enacted — more than any other year since Roe — 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 — even as the federal government loosened restrictions on the medication and allowed prescribing by telemedicine and delivery by mail.

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, and most restrictive barriers, in anti-abortion legislation in the last few decades.In updating the map, we’ve added more restrictions such as waiting periods, along with color coding. Note that, as indicated, the colors correlate to gestation bans, not the degree of overall restriction in the state — 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.

Glossary of terms

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 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 in 2021 formally allowed medication abortions by telemedicine. Medication abortion uses pills instead of a 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 through telemedicine, many states have banned it and require in-person visits — often, multiple — to obtain the pill.

Note

Some states have restrictions in categories not represented by this map. For example, in Colorado, minors are required to notify their parents before they’re able to receive an abortion. Importantly, our map only shows the legal framework in each state, which often doesn’t reflect actual access. For example, currently abortions are allowed in Mississippi up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the sole abortion clinic in the state offers the procedure only up to 16 weeks.


Editor's Note: This post is periodically updated and was last updated on 9:05 a.m. ET Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.


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