- The Washington Times
Sunday, June 26, 2022

Different laws spanning more than 170 years will now govern abortion access in states across the country after the Supreme Court’s reversal of the 1973 ruling that recognized a constitutional right to abortion.

The high court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization announced Friday turns over the regulation of abortion to the states. Some states are choosing to implement laws restricting abortion while others are looking to change the rules or ignore them entirely.

An Associated Press tally listed 20 states with major restrictions or bans on abortion that now take effect with Roe v. Wade struck.

The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice think tank, estimates that 26 states eventually will ban abortion outright. The group noted that more than a dozen states had laws triggered to regulate or ban abortion once the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

South Dakota banned abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy. The state has just one facility that regularly conducts abortions, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, defended her state’s abortion restrictions Sunday but said women should not be prosecuted for obtaining abortions.

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“I don’t believe women should ever be prosecuted. I don’t believe that mothers in this situation should ever be prosecuted,” she told ABC’s “This Week.” “Now, doctors who knowingly violate the law — they should be prosecuted, definitely.”

Texas and Oklahoma have more restrictive laws. Texas’ law is enforceable through lawsuits filed by private citizens against doctors or those helping women obtain abortions.

When asked whether South Dakota would surveil women or adopt more restrictive laws like Texas and Oklahoma, Ms. Noem told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that she did not anticipate that.

Leaders of states governed by liberals said they would keep abortion available and extend the service to out-of-state women.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced alongside the Democratic governors of Oregon and Washington that they were developing a “West Coast offensive” to defend abortion providers and “fight like hell.”

“We’re going to expand access to abortion services for the people in need,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a video published to Twitter by Mr. Newsom.

Other states, especially those with old laws formally on the books, are struggling with decisions.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has said he would not investigate or prosecute anyone for having an abortion, although an 1849 state law makes abortion a felony.

That law was an unenforceable dead letter as long as Roe made abortion a federal constitutional right. The state Legislature never formally repealed it, so it is now Wisconsin law again.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said it would not take chances and halted abortions after the Supreme Court ruling.

“If you live in Wisconsin and need an abortion, it’s important to contact your local Planned Parenthood first,” says a message on the website of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. “We will work with you to get abortion care in a state where it remains legal.”

Neighboring Illinois and Minnesota have expanded abortion rights, and their Democratic governors have issued statements pledging to do more.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said via executive order that his state would deny extradition requests from other states pursuing criminal charges related to abortion services that are legal in Minnesota.

Confusion also reigns in Michigan. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to “decide if Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan preemptively filed a lawsuit against a 1931 state law that criminalized abortion and obtained a temporary injunction while the case is being litigated. That means abortion is unquestionably legal in the state for now.

Ms. Whitmer also sued the chief prosecutor in each county with an abortion facility to enjoin them from enforcing that law.

The state’s Republican-majority Legislature wants to keep the law on the books.

Separately, pro-choice activists are organizing a ballot initiative for November that would make abortion a right in the Michigan Constitution.

“Now is the time to use every tool in our toolbox to protect women and reproductive health care. I will fight like hell to protect every Michigander’s right to make decisions about their own bodies,” Ms. Whitmer said Friday.

Other states where abortion providers have stopped work since Friday are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Although individual abortion providers and states determine their next steps, Democrats are calling for federal law and seeking to make abortion access a priority for voters in the midterm elections.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, said Sunday that Democratic victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin’s Senate races in November would enable Congress to cement abortion rights at the federal level.

Democrats control Congress, but the 50-50 split in the Senate has made advancing liberal policies an uphill battle.

“Focus like a laser on the election in November and we get two more senators on the Democratic side, two senators who are willing to protect access to abortion and get rid of the filibuster so that we can pass it,” Ms. Warren told ABC’s “This Week.”

“And yes, John Fetterman, I’m looking at you in Pennsylvania. Mandela Barnes, I’m looking at you in Wisconsin. We bring them in, then we’ve got the votes and we can protect every woman no matter where she lives,” she said.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, is facing television celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in the race to replace retiring Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Senate in his state. The nominee will oppose Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in November.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said Sunday that he does not believe abortion will determine the balance of power for Congress, governors and state legislatures.

“It’s not going to change the 2022 outcome,” Mr. Graham told Fox. “I really do believe most Americans are comfortable with elected officials making decisions about life. Let every state do it the way they would like.”

He said the price of gas, the crime rate and border security are issues he expects to factor heavily in the midterm elections.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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