South Carolina is the latest state to pass post-Roe abortion restrictions with 6-week ban
Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill Thursday that bans abortion in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. The new law allows exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies, when the mother's life and health are at-risk. Victims of rape or incest can obtain abortions for up to 12 weeks if they filed a police report and obtained certification from two doctors.
South Carolina's is just the latest in a string of strict restrictions on abortion passed by individual states since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court last summer.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in June 2022, 18 Republican states across the South and West, such as Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi and South Dakota, passed so-called “trigger laws,” which outlawed abortion the moment the court handed down its verdict.
In recent months, eight other Republican-led states have enacted new laws that outlaw abortion at various stages of pregnancy.
Here is a guide to the new abortion restrictions states have passed since last summer:
The state had a 2021 trigger law that banned abortion after cardiac activity can be detected in a fetus, at around six weeks of pregnancy — but the state Supreme Court overturned that law in January, saying that it violated privacy rights in the state constitution. That left abortion legal until 22 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion providers in the state immediately filed suit against the law in state court, asking the court to put in place a temporary restraining order preventing the law's implementation. On Friday, a South Carolina judge granted abortion providers' request to block a newly enacted six-week abortion ban while a legal challenge proceeds.
In May, Republican lawmakers in Nebraska's one-chamber Legislature amended a bill that outlaws gender-affirming surgeries for anyone younger than 19 and will impose new rules limiting access to hormone therapy and puberty blocking drugs for trans youth to also outlaw abortion after 12 weeks and then passed the measure. It was subsequently signed into law by Republican Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen. There are exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother's life is in danger. Nebraska previously outlawed abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. An effort in April to ban abortion after six weeks failed by one vote.
The state's House and Senate overrode the governor's veto on a party-line vote, with Republicans having attained the three-fifths majority in both chambers after one Democratic state representative changed parties. State law previously banned nearly all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and Cooper spent last week unsuccessfully trying to persuade at least one Republican to side with him and uphold his veto. North Carolina law previously banned nearly all abortions after 20 weeks.
North Dakota adopted a law on April 24 banning abortion almost entirely, with exceptions in the first six weeks of pregnancy for cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies. After six weeks, only certain medical emergencies, such as ectopic pregnancies would qualify for legal abortions. In March, a previous North Dakota abortion ban that was almost as far-reaching was temporarily suspended by the state supreme court while a legal challenge proceeds. There are no longer any abortion clinics in North Dakota. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, the state’s only abortion clinic moved operations to Moorhead, Minn.
A law signed on April. 14 by Gov. Ron DeSantis would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy except for victims of rape or incest or for women whose health is at risk. Those seeking one of those exceptions would also be required to produce evidence. The new law will take effect only if the existing 15-week ban is upheld by the state Supreme Court in a current legal challenge. The state’s top court has a conservative majority.
The Hoosier State became the first in the country to create new abortion restrictions after the Dobbs decision. In August 2022, Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, signed a bill that banned abortion, with limited exceptions. Abortions are now permitted in Indiana only in cases of rape and incest in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, in order to protect the pregnant woman’s life or physical health, or if a fetus is diagnosed with a lethal anomaly. Doctors who provide illegal abortions are to be stripped of their medical license. Abortions can also now be performed only in hospitals or outpatient centers owned by hospitals — abortion clinics are no longer legally able to operate in the state. Enforcement of the new law, however, has been blocked pending the outcome of legal challenges. The Indiana state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in January.
Last September, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, signed a law banning abortion except in cases of rape or incest for up to eight weeks of pregnancy for adults and 14 weeks for minors. It allows abortions of a nonviable fetus or embryo, and when there is a medical emergency or an ectopic pregnancy. Providers of abortions not covered by those exceptions face up to 10 years in prison.
In March, Wyoming became the first state to ban abortions conducted via oral medication, which account for a majority of abortions nationwide. The state already had a full abortion trigger ban on the books, but it is currently enjoined by court order from enforcing it. The same abortion pill is at the center of federal lawsuits, as a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas recently overruled the FDA’s approval of the drug.
Earlier this month, Idaho became the first state to criminalize helping a minor get an abortion in another state, with persons convicted of breaking the law facing two to five years in prison. The law allows the state attorney general to prosecute a case if local prosecutors decline to do so. It also allows family members of a pregnant child or the person who impregnated her to file lawsuits against medical professionals who provide her abortion care, with up to $20,000 for damages.