By KIMBERLEE KRUESI and GEOFF MULVIHILL (Associated Press)
Lawmakers in South Carolina and a judge in Montana are weighing abortion restrictions in the latest developments in the changing landscape of the law since the US Supreme Court last year struck down Roe v. Wade and the national right to abortion.
This is what you should know.
BACK TO THE SENATE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
In conservative South Carolina, Republicans have been arguing, sometimes dramatically, over how far to go with abortion bans.
His latest attempt to ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant, went before the state Senate Tuesday.
The five women in the state Senate — three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent — said they would resist the latest incarnation of the legislation. More debate or negotiations are possible. The House passed this version last week, just weeks after an earlier effort fell short on procedural votes.
Lawmakers in Nebraska, similarly dominated by the GOP, have taken a similar path, with intra-party bickering until a 12-week ban was passed last week as part of a bill that would also ban affirmation care from gender for those under 19 years of age. Governor Jim Pillen signed the bill into law Monday, and the abortion restrictions went into effect immediately.
THE COURTS INTERVENE AGAIN IN MONTANA
Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a ban last week on dilation and evacuation abortions, which are typically performed in the second trimester of pregnancy. The issue quickly escalated to the courts, where a judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the ban in a matter of days. A hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.
It is not the only prohibition in the state before the courts.
In 2021, Montana adopted a broader ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the state Supreme Court ruled it won’t enforce it until it’s challenged in court. That left some legal abortions until viability, around week 24.
GROUPS REACT TO CHANGING TERRAIN
Planned Parenthood and Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, groups on opposite sides of the abortion policy debates, announced initiatives Tuesday.
The national group Planned Parenthood, a federation of regional organizations that share the name and provide abortion services, tests for sexually transmitted infections, cancer screenings and other health services, announced a change in strategy. It is laying off 10-15% of its national staff and sending more money to its affiliates. The plan is to improve health equity for black people and bolster services both in states with bans and those that serve more patients seeking abortions and traveling from places with bans.
The group’s political arm also hopes to focus on state politics.
Susan B. Anthony, a leading opponent of abortion, announced that she is working with Kellyanne Conway, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, to “make pro-life candidates offensive in the 2024 election cycle.”
Last year, abortion access advocates prevailed in all six statewide abortion-related ballot initiatives in the US.
PURPLE STATE POLICY
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, stricter abortion restrictions have been enacted in most Republican-controlled states and abortion access protections have taken effect in most Democratic-dominated states.
In the 11 states where control of the government is divided between Republicans and Democrats, the story has not been so smooth. Virginia has maintained its status quo, for example, while Vermont has adopted a constitutional amendment to preserve abortion access, and Louisiana and Kentucky have bans in place.
The shift came swiftly in North Carolina in April, when a state lawmaker switched from Democrat to Republican, giving the GOP enough votes to override the governors’ vetoes.
Lawmakers quickly passed a ban that is less restrictive than most, allowing abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed it. But on May 16, lawmakers overrode that ban, so the ban will take effect on July 1. The new law includes several other provisions that medical experts have criticized, including more medical and paperwork requirements for doctors, new licensing requirements for abortion clinics, and increasing the number of times patients must make an in-person visit to an abortion clinic. doctor before getting the abortion pill.
COURT ARGUMENTS ON AN ABORTION PILL
Most of the legal battles over abortion since the Dobbs decision in 2022 have focused on whether individual state constitutions protect the right to abortion.
But at least one lawsuit has national implications.
An anti-abortion group sued to rescind the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone in 2000, one of two drugs used in combination in most drug-induced abortions in the US. USA
A federal judge in Texas agreed. The New Orleans-based US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard the arguments last week. Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court has said that mifepristone can stay on the market. Its use in abortions is already prohibited, with some exceptions, in states with current bans.
It is not clear when the appeals court will rule. The case is expected to eventually return to the nation’s highest court. The Texas case could be merged with one in Washington, where another federal judge ruled last month that mifepristone restrictions cannot be reversed in a group of Democratic-led states that filed lawsuits.
Currently, fourteen states have bans on abortion in all stages of pregnancy, one when heart activity can be detected around six weeks and three between 12 and 15 weeks. Of those 17 states with the strictest restrictions, 12 have no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. All have exceptions to save the woman’s life in at least some circumstances.
At least six states have bans that the courts have stopped.
One more state, North Carolina, has a ban after 12 weeks of pregnancy that doesn’t go into effect until July 1.
The abortion bans also apply to the prescription of pills to induce abortion. But only in South Carolina and Texas is it illegal to self-manage abortions.