States have had a little more than five business days since the US Supreme Court handed them the responsibility to protect the right to life of children in the womb. In that short time thirteen states have taken decisive action to enforce existing abortion bans or enacting trigger bans that were awaiting the fall of Roe and Casey.
While full equal protection and full personhood of the pre-born child has not been explicitly achieved in any state, many of the pro-life laws being enforced now are criminal abortion laws that only allow limited exceptions to cover necessary medical intervention to save the life of the mother.
The Leaders of the ProLife Pack
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been especially bold and successful in his defense of the right to life during these early stages. The very day of the Dobbs decision he issued a guidance letter in which he laid out what American ProLifers can expect. The abortion industry went to the state courts to do battle almost immediately. Ken Paxton defended the case skillfully and won a big victory before the State Supreme Court. Abortion is now illegal from the moment of conception in the great state of Texas thanks to a pre-existing law that the state’s legislature never repealed.
Alabama joined Texas and Missouri prohibiting all abortions (except in cases of medical emergencies) after Attorney General Steve Marshall filed for and was granted an emergency motion to reinstate the 2019 Alabama abortion ban.
South Dakota joined the ProLife pack as Governor Kristi Noem called for a special session of the legislature to meet to address the best way to move forward in an abortion-free state. South Dakota’s Governor announced that the state’s trigger law banning abortion will be enforced immediately. The law includes a “medical emergency” exception but no rape or other exceptions.
Following closely behind South Dakota was Kentucky, where Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued an opinion recognizing the trigger law passed in 2019 by the legislature and explaining that the ban would not criminalize miscarriages or contraception.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also wasted no time enacting the trigger law and proudly signed the order of enforcement on the same day Roe and Casey were overturned. Arkansa’s trigger law, enacted in 2019 describes abortion as “a crime against humanity” and bans all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
Louisiana’s weak Republican Governor actually asked the legislature to weaken the 2006 trigger ban to include a rape and incest exception, thus denying the protection of the right to life to children conceived in rape or incest. Thankfully the legislature did not heed his request, although they did include unnecessary exceptions for “medical futility and treatment of ectopic pregnancies.” Either way, almost all abortions are now illegal in Louisiana thanks to the trigger law and the state’s ProLife Attorney General, Jeff Landry has vowed to vigorously enforce it.
While weak kneed Republican Governor Mike DeWine practically apologized for Roe and Casey’s demise, he was obliged to issue an executive order directing the Ohio Department of Health to adopt emergency rules implementing Ohio’s Heartbeat Law. Thankfully Ohio does have an Attorney General, Dave Yost, with some backbone and he got to work right away to remove the injunction against the Ohio heartbeat bill.
Ohio’s heartbeat law is not a complete abortion ban, but is considered to apply to most abortion after 6 weeks of gestation, which should protect a significant number of preborn children.
Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes has vowed to enforce Utah’s laws on abortion, which include the trigger abortion ban SB 174 signed into law in 2020. Unfortunately, Utah’s trigger law includes the exceptions for rape, incest, and a broad medical emergency. The Utah legislature issued a statement as soon as Dobbs was handed down, declaring the law to be enforceable.
Oklahomas’ Governor and Attorney General announced during a joint press conference that they would be enforcing the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban. The Oklahoma law, initially enacted in 1910 includes a life of the mother exception but no broad health or rape and incest exceptions.
“Oklahoma’s law is very clear now … Law enforcement is now activated in respect to any effort to aid, abet or solicit any abortions.”Oklahoma AG John O’Connor
Secretary of Health and Mental Health Kevin Corbett also has stated that the Oklahoma State Department of Health had revoked the licenses of abortion clinics in Oklahoma.
After having to clear one last hurdle, Mississippi’s trigger ban was declared enforceable thanks to the trigger law passed in 2007, which will ban most abortions but not protect children conceived in rape or incest.
South Carolina’s flawed heartbeat bill, which had been enjoined by a federal court is now in effect after Attorney General Alan Wilson petitioned a federal court to lift the injunction and was granted the injunction, making the law enforceable. Unfortunately the law includes exceptions for rape and incest, fetal abnormality (sic) meaning fetal disabilities, and like other fetal heartbeat laws only applies after around 6 weeks.
Tennessee’s Governor, Bill Lee announced on June 28th that their federal circuit court had lifted the injunction on Tennessee’s heartbeat bill effective immediately. Tennessee’s heartbeat bill is better than South Carolina’s in that it does not include a rape or incest exception, but it does include a life and narrowly defined health exception.
States Waiting on ProLife Enforcement
Fourteen other states such are in different stages of enforcement of their existing pro-life laws. Most of them lack pro-life elected officials willing to press forward with existing laws, while others are tied up with judicially created state rights to abortion (read more about that issues HERE).
The states in this category include, from West to East: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida.