Abortion in the South:
Abortion is currently banned on or around 20 weeks, with certain limited exceptions, in: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. In Texas, that limit is six weeks.
Many Southern states are looking to Texas' Senate Bill 8, a new law that effectively bans all abortions past six weeks of pregnancy, as a model for future legislation. The law's restrictions take effect before many know they are pregnant and provide no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
➡ The Texas law, which took effect September 1, allows anyone to file civil lawsuits with penalties of up to $10,000 in damages against anyone who "aids or abets" in abortion. A majority of conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect, because the new civil enforcement mechanism strips the usual procedure for reviewing anti-abortion laws in federal court. Despite a temporary administrative halt, SB 8 is currently in effect.
➡ The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in December in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case that could reinstate a Mississippi law passed in 2018 that would prohibit all abortions after 15 weeks.
➡ Louisiana passed its own 15-week ban on abortions in 2018, attaching the law to Mississippi's. The case challenges Roe v. Wade's 1973 ruling which made abortion legal up to 24 weeks nationwide—a decision that was reaffirmed 20 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If the Supreme Court upholds Mississippi's law, Louisiana's legislation is also set to take effect.
➡ State officials across the South banned most abortions during the pandemic, arguing that it was necessary to free up resources to fight COVID-19. When a federal appeals court allowed Texas to continue its near-total ban on the procedure in April 2020, it forced many seeking abortions to violate stay-at-home orders, crossing state lines into Louisiana for abortive care—a pattern that has continued amid uncertainty.
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