Access to abortion has been a patchwork of policies in the US since the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade lifted last year. New restrictions are coming into effect in some states, while others are increasingly taking action to strengthen access.
Here’s some of what happened this week.
North Dakota bans almost all abortions
Republican Gov. Doug Burgum on Monday signed one of the toughest abortion bans in the nation. The law will ban abortions at any stage of pregnancy, with some exceptions for victims of rape or incest – but they must have the procedure within six weeks of pregnancy.
The law goes into effect immediately, even though the state no longer has any abortion clinics.
North Dakota was one of the states with a “trigger law” enacted when the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade picked up. The Trigger Act banned almost all abortions and would have made it a criminal offense for a doctor to perform an abortion even in medical emergencies and in cases of rape or incest.
The deduction ban is temporarily blocked as part of an ongoing litigation in a state district court.
Nebraska, South Carolina violates restrictions
The South Carolina state Senate on Thursday rejected a near-total abortion ban after the chamber’s five female lawmakers waged a multi-day filibuster against the law.
The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the law in February, but there were not enough votes in the Senate to break the filibuster.
The Senate passed a six-week abortion ban earlier this year, and there’s still a chance it might pass the House of Representatives, which is only in session for the next two weeks. The state Supreme Court threw out a very similar version of the bill in January.
Meanwhile, in Nebraska, a six-week “heartbeat” ban on abortion was defeated by a single vote. The bill will not be moved for debate, effectively killing it for the rest of the year.
Abortion remains legal in both states up to the 20th week of pregnancy.
Washington protects reproductive health data
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a unique law protecting individuals’ reproductive health records. The law responds to concerns that some of the personal information bought and sold by tech companies could be used to track abortion cases.
The law requires businesses to obtain a consumer’s explicit consent in order to collect, share, or sell the consumer’s health information. Consumers can sue organizations that fail to obtain their express consent to use their data, and the Attorney General can also take legal action on behalf of consumers.
Minnesota and Washington become abortion havens
Inslee and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed similar bills aimed at protecting people traveling to their states for abortion or gender-affirming care.
Washington law aims to protect people from nearby Idaho, which bans abortion and also recently made it illegal for an adult to assist a minor to have an abortion without parental consent.
In Minnesota, the law targets both neighboring states and far-flung states where patients have traveled to Minnesota for abortions. It also makes patient data about abortions private and restricts subpoenas from other states.
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