WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) – Judges, state lawmakers and voters continue to argue the details of abortion access in the U.S., two years after the Supreme Court issued a ruling overturned long-standing allowances under Roe v. Wade.

The June 24, 2022, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization sparked legislative action, protest and numerous lawsuits — forcing the issue into political discussions across the country.

Abortion is now banned at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions, in 14 Republican-controlled states. In three other states, it’s barred after about the first six weeks, which is before many know they are pregnant. Most Democratic-led states have taken actions to protect abortion rights, and become sanctuaries for out-of-state patients seeking care.

That’s changed the landscape of abortion access, making it more of a logistical and financial ordeal for many in conservative states.

But it has not reduced the overall number of procedures done each month across the U.S.

Here’s what to know about the state of abortion rights in the U.S.:

Limited Access Means More Travel

 

A new study by the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion access, found that out of just over a million abortions provided in clinics, hospitals and doctors’ offices, more than 161,000 — or 16% — were for people who crossed state lines to get them.

For example: More than two-thirds of abortions done in Kansas and New Mexico were for out-of-staters, particularly Texans. And since Florida’s six-week abortion ban took effect in May, many people had to travel farther than before, because most Southeast states have bans.

And in Alabama, the Yellowhammer Fund, which previously helped residents pay for the procedure has paused doing so since facing threats of litigation from the state.

Abortions More Commonly Provided by Medication

 

Nearly two-thirds of known abortions last year were provided with medication rather than procedures.

One report found that pills are prescribed via telehealth and mailed to about 6,000 people a month who live in states with abortion bans. They’re sent by medical providers in states with laws intended to protect them from prosecution for those prescriptions.

The laws in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Washington specifically protect medical providers who prescribe the pills to patients in states with bans.

The reliance on medication has noticeably increased in the past two years, as that method was used in about half of all abortions just before the Dobbs ruling.

The Supreme Court this month unanimously rejected an effort by abortion opponents who were seeking to overturn or roll back the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, one of two drugs usually used together for medication abortions. But the issue is likely to return.

Abortion Policies on the Ballot

 

Protecting access to abortion is emerged as a key theme in the campaigns of Democrats, including for President Joe Biden in his reelection bid.

Former President Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate, has said states should decide whether to restrict abortions. He also suggested states could limit contraception use but has stepped away from that remark.

The issue will also be put directly before voters this year in at least four states: Colorado, Florida, Maryland and South Dakota have ballot measures this year asking voters to approve state constitutional amendments that would protect or expand access to abortion. A New York measure would bar discrimination against someone who has an abortion.

There are attempts to put questions about abortion access on the ballots soon in Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Nevada.

There’s also a push for a ballot measure in Arizona, where the state Supreme Court this year ruled that an 1864 abortion ban could be enforced.

Additional Court Decisions

 

The Dobbs ruling and its aftermath resulted in a long list of legal questions and lawsuits challenging nearly every ban and restriction.

Many of those questions deal with how and when exceptions should be considered lawful. The matter is often raised by those who wanted to be pregnant, but experienced life-threatening complications.

A group of women who had serious pregnancy complications but were denied abortions in Texas sued, claiming the state’s ban is vague about which exceptions are allowed. The all-Republican Texas Supreme Court disagreed in a May ruling.

The Supreme Court also heard arguments in April on the federal government’s lawsuit against Idaho, which says its ban on abortions at all stages of pregnancy can extend to women in medical emergencies. The Biden administration says that violates federal law. A ruling on that case is among those pending in the current court term.

Meanwhile, bans have been put on hold by judges in Iowa, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Demonstrations Across the Country

 

Some women’s activists and groups used social media to call for strikes, demonstrations and protests Monday in support of equal rights, reproductive freedom and an end to gender-based violence.

The date was chosen to coincide with the second anniversary of the Dobbs court ruling. Those who could not participate in events in person were encouraged to wear red to show their support.

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