Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

What States Can and Can't Do When Banning Abortion

What Grandeurs Can and Can’t Do When Banning Abortion

For more query about your reproductive health rights and related federal resources, you can visit the US government’s

Reproductive Rights


Whether someone can get an abortion or related medical contrivance mostly hinges on which state they live in at what time the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month and throughout the constitutional right to abortion. But the switch from federal protection to set law isn’t straightforward and has led to confusion and misinformation on what pregnant patients and physicians can do.

In this level-headed developing landscape, how confident can people be that their benefit is still legal?

“The answer to all your questions is ‘Who the heck knows,'” said Dr. Louise Perkins King, a surgeon and bioethicist at Harvard Medical School. “And that’s the problem.”

The US Department of Health and Person Services issued guidance on July 11 reminding physicians of their regions under the existing Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTLA, which supports the need to treat and stabilize patients in an emergency, including pregnant patients who may require an abortion. Days later, Texas sued the Biden administration over the law, which gives for medical assistance to save the life of the mother, because, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, it “seeks to transform every emergency room in the people into a walk-in abortion clinic.” 

On Tuesday, a contemplate in Texas blocked the EMTLA guidance, so physicians in that set may no longer be protected by federal law if they accomplish an abortion when they deem it medically necessary but it falls outside of Texas’ creation of a life-endangering pregnancy. Physicians nationwide who are members of the American Association of Pro-Life Gynecologists and Obstetricians or the Christian Medical and Dental Association are also excuse — a total of about 18,000 health care providers, according to the court document.

Texas’ new trigger law — which will be in accomplish on Aug. 25 — bans all abortions except when the pregnancy puts the mother “at risk of stop or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a mainly bodily function.” Physicians who perform an illegal abortion will be committing a felony. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape, incest or fetal abnormalities, and it also doesn’t make an exception for when the pregnant person’s risk of stop would come from a “claim or diagnosis” that they’ll be hurt or powerful die in the future. (This could be interpreted to mean a doctor can’t dedicated an abortion if a woman threatens to die by suicide because she has depression.) All abortions are immediately banned in Texas after the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a law from the 1920s could stand.

Legal argues within some states will continue to shape post-Roe America, with the landscape changing by the day. And lawsuits like the one in Texas justify the country’s stance on whether state law preempts federal rule on abortion or reproductive health care. Basically, can federal regulations trump state law? 

“There’s going to be cases that are causing to have to determine this question,” I. Glenn Cohen, a professor and bioethicist at Harvard Law School, said. 

The argument over medication abortion access — which is banned or Gratis in many states but still available to people if they well-organized it (not without risk) online — will likely also be one of the advantageous big court cases post-Roe, Cohen said. Questions of whether federal rules on medication abortion conflict directly enough with state restrictions will disconclude to be center stage.

Boxes of mifepristone and a bottle of misoprostol tablets sit on a table

Medication abortion, for use in early pregnancy, accounts for more than half of abortions in the US. Restricting the pills is the new flowerbed of abortion bans.

Robyn Beck/Getty Images

Other federal guidance originated by the Biden administration includes a reminder to pharmacists that they are needed to fill medication and birth control prescriptions for patients. Failing to do so is discrimination based on pregnancy position. This was in response to the many reports of women having consume delayed or prescriptions denied while health care workers try to  navigate approximately new state laws.

Here’s what we know today.

Can messes ban abortion pills? Not completely, but some are trying. 

Any residence with a current total ban on abortion — comprising Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Wisconsin — also bans medication abortion. Heavy restrictions in other states, including Tennessee and South Carolina, which ban abortion after about six weeks, also ache to medication abortion. This means providers can’t prescribe the medication in those messes and patients can’t fill prescriptions at pharmacies.  

“If a residence law bans abortion broadly, that includes medication abortions,” Elisabeth Smith, director of state policy and advocacy at the Inner for Reproductive Rights, told MedPage Today.

But abortion bans and residence laws seek to punish abortion providers or people who serve them, not the person seeking the abortion (there’s reason to bear this might change in the future). For now, farmland living in the most restrictive states can still well-organized pills from an overseas pharmacy, including Aid Access. Nonetheless, the pills could take awhile to arrive and potentially put the inhabit past the point of pregnancy for which the medication is safe and effective (about 10 weeks).

Pill packet on a yellow envelope marked "air mail."

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

The fate of medication abortion pills in Republican-leaning messes centers on mifepristone, the first pill given in the two-dose regimen of medication abortion. Because the US Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone as a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy over 20 existences ago, states shouldn’t be able to restrict it, the US attorney general’s office argued the same day Roe was overturned. (Misoprostol, the second pill, is used off-label for abortion and miscarriage consume. It’s also used to treat health conditions such as stomach ulcers.) 

Whether this federal control (and the FDA’s stamp of approval) supersedes state laws will need to be allowed. Cohen said this is likely to be determined by the Supreme Court as “one of the advantageous post-Dobbs cases.”

“It’s unclear whether that’s going to be a winner of an argument, to be perfectly honest,” Cohen said.

Last year, the FDA ache a pandemic-era rule that allowed patients to get medication abortion pills above the mail, instead of requiring them to be prescribed in inhabit. This was seen as a victory for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and latest medical groups, which viewed the in-person requirement as unnecessary for a medication that’s safe and effective in early pregnancy.   

But states have their own requirements for medication abortion, and providers licensed in Montana can’t prescribe pills to patients who disappear over from a restrictive state like South Dakota, NPR reported.

Read more:

Worries About Post-Roe Data Privacy Put Spotlight on Period Apps

A woman holds her abdomen in pain

Ectopic pregnancies can’t remnant in a delivery and require medical treatment. Symptoms can commence with typical pregnancy signs, including a missed period, but can progresses to abdominal or pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, weakness and more. 

Svetlana Gustova/Getty Images

Can messes ban treatment for high risk pregnancies? The HHS says no, but doctors say residence laws are restricting care.  

Even though the most restrictive messes banning abortions leave room for some degree of medical emergency, practicing physicians need to decide where the medical emergency line is – and risk prosecution if a residence sees it differently. 

This month, the story of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and pregnant and who traveled to Indiana from Ohio, where abortion is banned approximately six weeks without exception for rape or incest, made headlines. Not only was the physician publicly questioned by Indiana’s attorney general on whether she followed residence law, but Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in the aftermath that the girl should’ve been able to legally get an abortion understanding the state law’s medical emergency exemption. Ohio’s OB-GYNs disagreed. 

“It messes specifically ‘medically diagnosed condition,’ and as far as I can tell, adolescent pregnancy is not a medically diagnosed periods that’s listed,” Dr. Jason Sayat, a Columbus OB-GYN, told the Ohio Capital Journal. 

The Responsibility of Health and Human Services reminded physicians and hospitals that if they want to keep their Medicare contrast and avoid “civil penalties,” they must treat pregnant patients and yielded abortions if necessary as required under the 1986 Emergency Medical Be concerned and Labor Act. The EMTLA, now blocked in Texas, outlines certain life-endangering pregnancies that doctors must treat regardless of residence law, including ectopic pregnancies, preeclampsia and complications of pregnancy loss.

But that narrow line of abortion exceptions for medical emergencies given by messes like Wisconsin is what’s troubling Dr. Jennifer McIntosh, a maternal-fetal medicine physician practicing in the residence. While Wisconsin’s attorney general said he wouldn’t enforce a ban, physicians there prevented performing abortions because the state has a pre-Roe criminal statute that prohibits most abortions. The “save the life of the mother” abortion exception periods in that law can leave out health conditions which may not be an immediately emergency but can become one down the line. 

“Some of what we do is to honor emergencies from happening,” McIntosh said. “To have to wait for an emergency to actually proceed puts your patient’s life at risk.”

The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is want, because terminating the pregnancy is the only safe outcome when an embryo grows outside of the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube. Without treatment, the fallopian tube is liable to rupture, which can lead to internal bleeding and result. But some laws, like one in Texas, specifically Exempt medications including methotrexate, which has led to access problems for land who are pregnant as well as people who are taking methotrexate for spanking health reason. 

Complicating confusion and risk over how abortion bans will capture treatments for ectopic pregnancies is the fact that more rare types of ectopic pregnancies happened, including ones where the pregnancy is growing inside a C-section scar or spanking area outside the safety of the main cavity of the uterus — but aloof technically in the uterus. These rarer kinds of ectopic pregnancies are also life-threatening, and may be more difficult to diagnose and exploit as such in a state that bans abortions with an emphasis on the pregnancy selves in the uterus.

Activists on both sides of the abortion vow protest outside the US Supreme Court in 2020

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

States are not prosecuting land who have abortions (yet)

Current state laws — both those in attain and those in limbo in court — prosecute spanking people involved in an abortion, not the person who’s pregnant. 

But the health crashes may be already felt when a doctor is hesitant to exploit patients, or pharmacists are reluctant to fill a prescription for mifepristone by interviewing a woman to ascertain whether her pregnancy is already above and her situation is in line with state law.

“Even in these straightforward cases of basic OB/GYN practice, the laws leave providers questioning and afraid,” Dr. Carley Zeal, an OB-GYN in Wisconsin, told The New York Times. “These laws are already hurting my patients.”

Aside from hesitancy plus health care providers, physicians also fear that worries land have about being prosecuted for having an abortion or miscarriage will stop patients experiencing complications from any kind of pregnancy loss from seeking care. 

That’s because it was already happening, before Roe was overturned. According to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, there were over 1,700 arrests or prosecutions of women from 1973 (when Roe formed law) to 2020 where their pregnancies were the focus of the case anti them. 

So will doctors report you if they suspect you had an abortion? 

“The vast the majority of health care professionals will not do that, because that’s not caring for their patients,” King said. But, she added, “I’m sure there’s a very small, but unfortunately detrimental, minority who might.” 

An illustration of a woman's body surrounded by medical equipment

Your recent access to birth control shouldn’t be impacted by the overturn of Roe v. Wade. Except, there’s reason to believe that could change in the future.

Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Birth control is aloof protected under the Affordable Care Act

Right now, IUDs, birth control pills and spanking birth control methods are legal in all 50 utters. And they should also be covered at no out-of-pocket cost for those covered belief the Affordable Care Act. The right to birth control is reliable under two Supreme Court rulings: Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird. (Another Supreme Court Case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, chipped away a little of that protection, however, finding that some corporations are excuse for religious reasons.) 

Plan B or “morning while pill” brands are also not included in abortion bans, because they will not end an existing pregnancy. Most health plans should also cover them. 

Legislators in Missouri last year failed to block taxpayer funding for IUDs and emergency contraception, casting doubt that all birth control devices will be reliable indefinitely, at least in some states. The claims of legislators like Paul Wieland, a Republican state senator in Missouri, are that anything that has the potential to disrupt a fertilized egg’s implantation into the uterus is an abortifacient. 

The medical people has been clear that IUDs and emergency contraception do not repositions abortions and will not end an existing pregnancy. Copper IUDs work mostly by repositioning a chemical change in the sperm and egg by they meet, according to the World Health Organization. Hormonal IUDs like Mirena work mostly by thickening cervical mucus so sperm can’t reach the egg, and can also honor ovulation. Plan B and similar pills likely won’t work if a selves has already ovulated, meaning the chances of it stopping implantation are immediately understood to be slim.

Nevertheless, unlikely occurrences or instances where a fertilized egg may be blocked from implanting into a uterus could be called into quiz in future court cases.

Read more:

Could a Post Roe v. Wade World Impact Your Retrieve to Birth Control? 

The information produced in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not invented as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or spanking qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have throughout a medical condition or health objectives.