Supreme Court overturning Roe sparks rapid law changes, confusion and uncertainty: What to know

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The Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade continued to reverberate through the nation over the weekend, as abortion laws are rapidly changing in numerous states.

The reversal on Roe now means Americans' access to abortion depends primarily on where they live. And it will be up to the states to regulate where and how their citizens can access an abortion.

The historic news prompted abortion-rights activists to immediately gather outside the Supreme Court and throughout the nation. Liberal politicians quickly pushed back on the high court's decision while many conservatives celebrated the news.

All the while, millions of Americans are left to question how the landmark decision will affect them. Here’s what we know:

An abortion-rights protester holds a sign during a rally on Friday in Iowa City, Iowa.
An abortion-rights protester holds a sign during a rally on Friday in Iowa City, Iowa.

What happened Friday after the Supreme Court overturned Roe?

Due to preexisting laws, 13 states have limited or banned abortion following the decision – or will do so shortly. In some states where laws are unclear, such as Arizona and Wisconsin, abortion providers have ceased offering procedures as a precaution to avoid criminal liability.

The moves in some states happened nearly instantaneously, although the bans often come with lingering legal questions about their lawfulness or enforcement. For example, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah has filed a lawsuit against and will soon request a "temporary restraining order against the state’s ban on abortion at any point in pregnancy."

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In Ohio, it's now illegal for medical professionals to perform an abortion if they can detect a fetal heartbeat, following a ruling from a federal judge.

And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Twitter said, "Abortion is now illegal in Texas," and declared June 24 should be a holiday moving forward. The state already had limited abortions to within six weeks of pregnancy, and another law set to go into effect in late July will bar abortions in most cases. Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health clinics in the states also stopped performing abortions on Friday.

And in Alabama attorney general Steve Marshall said on Friday that anyone providing medical abortions within the state should, "immediately cease and desist operations."

Is abortion legal or illegal in my state?

The Supreme Court's decision means the nation will be covered in an evolving patchwork of laws – and changes to those laws are expected to happen at a disorienting pace in coming days.

Twenty-two states have laws on the books that could be used to ban access to abortion. Of those, 13 have laws in place meant to immediately limit access to abortions in Roe's absence. Nine others had laws banning abortion prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

ABORTION LAWS BY STATE: Searchable database of state-by-state abortion limits and protections

The restrictions on abortions will vary by state as well. Some have near total bans while others limit abortions six weeks after conception. Others may ban the use of telemedicine to access medication abortions. But some states have no limit on when abortion would be banned or on the use of telemedicine to facilitate an abortion.

Meanwhile, 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect the right to an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

What happens next with US abortion laws?

It will be primarily up to the states to decide how and if abortion will be allowed for their citizens, and the legal fighting over the procedure is expected to continue.

Some state governors also promised to further restrict abortion rights. In Florida, Ron DeSantis said he planned to "expand pro-life protections," but didn't specify further what that expansion would entail. In Florida, people can get an abortion within 24 weeks of pregnancy, but a new law going into effect July 1 would narrow that window to 15 weeks.

Meanwhile, other states are planning to shore up abortion protections. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion on Friday urging the state's Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a 1931 law banning most abortions. A preliminary court injunction prior to the overturn of Roe has prevented that law from going into effect.

Experts predict there will be lawsuits over whether or not states can limit medication abortions, which make up more than half of terminated pregnancies. And there's unsettled legal questions about if states can limit or deter their residents from traveling to other states for an abortion. Some people have already started crossing state lines to access the procedure, even before the court's decision.

Abortion rights activists protest outside the Arizona state Senate in Phoenix following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Abortion rights activists protest outside the Arizona state Senate in Phoenix following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

Are protests happening?

Yes, and they're likely to continue through the weekend with planned demonstrations in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas and others. Protesters had also flocked to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

In a few instances on Friday, law enforcement broke up protests with force. In Phoenix, police used tear gas to disperse abortion rights activists who had gathered at the state's capitol. In Los Angeles, police declared an unlawful assembly after protesters blocked traffic and others clashed with police, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Some even protested outside Justice Clarence Thomas' home in Virginia. Thomas was one of the Justices who voted to overturn Roe, and also suggested that other rights previously granted by the court, including contraception access and gay marriage, may need to be revisited – though he was the only one to do so.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Abortion laws rapidly change after Supreme Court overturns Roe

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