If the Supreme Court adopts the initial draft majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, the retreat on abortion rights would be sweeping and immediate. At least 23 states have pre-Roe abortion bans still on the books or have passed so-called trigger laws that would sharply limit access to the procedure if Roe were to be overturned, according to a tally by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy and research group.
With roughly half of the states positioned to ban or restrict the ability to terminate a pregnancy and numerous heavily populated states on the East and West coasts likely to maintain access to abortion, the impact of the high court’s anticipated action could make America a country of haves and have-nots when it comes to abortion rights.
The organization also estimated that in 2019, 58 percent of American women of reproductive age — about 40 million — lived in states hostile to abortion rights. About 35 percent, 24 million women, lived in states broadly supportive of such rights.
The consequences of the Supreme Court’s expected ruling would fall primarily on those in Southern and Midwestern states who lack the means to travel to other states, or whose family or work situations would complicate such trips.
Calculations released last year by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights advocacy and research group, found that under a post-Roe scenario, “the average driving distance for a Mississippi woman aged 15–44 to reach a clinic would increase 387%, from 78 miles to 380 miles each way.”
The impact of the looming Supreme Court’s decision would be immediate. Conservative-led states have spent years preparing for this moment, passing so-called trigger laws that take effect the moment Roe is overturned. That means tens of millions of pregnant people will lose access to abortion the moment the court hands down a ruling if it aligns with initial draft majority opinion.
Curtailing abortion rights is expected to have a disproportionate effect on low-income pregnant people who do not have the means to easily travel to a more permissive state and women of color.
Alito’s initial draft opinion is in response to a case brought against Mississippi, which prohibited abortion after 15 weeks. The vast majority of pregnant people choose to have an abortion well before then. Were Mississippi to become the new standard, it would have had only a marginal real-world effect on the number of abortions that take place in the U.S. But Alito’s initial draft opinion is far more sweeping and will likely lead to states banning nearly all abortions.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
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