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More states will enact abortion trigger bans this week

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

How much has abortion law changed since the Supreme Court ruling? Two months ago, the court majority made a choice to eliminate a constitutional right to abortion. That ruling threw the matter to states. NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon covers abortion rights policy. Hey there, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What is the count of states that have changed their laws in these two months?

MCCAMMON: Well, so far, you know, many states had trigger bans, laws that were written to go into effect essentially as soon as the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was handed down. So already, about eight states have total or near-total abortion bans in effect. And that's according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. But, Steve, what's happening this week is, you know, others essentially had a waiting period in place. And there's also been some litigation up in the air in several states. So a handful of states are expected to have abortion bans take effect this week, Thursday or Friday. And we're talking about Tennessee, Texas and Idaho, as well as North Dakota. There's some litigation up in the air there. But unless the court intervenes, the date in North Dakota is Friday.

INSKEEP: OK. So abortion would still be legal then in a majority of states. But an increasing number are banning them or coming very near that. What impacts are those laws having?

MCCAMMON: Well, these new laws in many cases are already essentially in effect. I mean, the impact is already there. So Texas - we know that last year, Texas had that state law banning most abortions after six weeks take effect in September. And more laws are on the books as well that have been triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade. That - at this point in Texas, Steve, there are no clinics providing abortions, a shift that really began, you know, months ago.

INSKEEP: Right.

MCCAMMON: Idaho has a similar law in effect to the one in Texas that is enforced through private lawsuits. But there's another law, again, that may go into effect later this week. North Dakota only has one remaining abortion clinic. It's already moved its services to Minnesota, at least for now, where abortion remains legal. And then Tennessee also has very limited abortion access because of a six-week ban there. But the law scheduled to take effect this week goes even further, an almost total ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. So we're just seeing kind of a deepening of what's already happening.

INSKEEP: Yeah. That's a good word, deepening. We have laws on top of laws on top of laws. But you mentioned court battles challenging some of those laws. Where do those battles stand?

MCCAMMON: Right. So abortion rights groups have been trying to argue that at least some state constitutions offer protections for abortion rights, even if the U.S. Constitution does not. And abortion rights opponents, of course, are pushing back. Erin Hawley is senior counsel with the anti-abortion group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is working to enforce abortion laws in several states, including Wyoming. And she hopes that more states will eventually let their abortion bans take effect.

ERIN HAWLEY: I think we'll see a number of other states - that these laws will come online, that the intermediate courts of appeals and the state supreme courts will hopefully find that there is no state constitutional right to abortion, hopefully Wyoming, Arizona, some of these other places as well.

MCCAMMON: And then, Steve, there are federal challenges. We mentioned Idaho. The Department of Justice is challenging Idaho's trigger ban. There's a hearing scheduled for today in that case.

INSKEEP: Oh, interesting. What other abortion laws may be coming?

MCCAMMON: Well, the Dobbs decision is prompting some Republican state officials to look at passing new laws. I spoke with Elisabeth Smith of the Center for Reproductive Rights. She predicts that, particularly as many legislatures reconvene next year, there will be a lot more of that.

ELISABETH SMITH: And I think it's important to talk about the fact that we will also likely see novel criminal penalties for abortion providers and helpers and some states trying to prevent people from crossing state lines.

MCCAMMON: And that said, Steve, she is encouraged by what she saw in Kansas earlier this month, when voters there resoundingly rejected an amendment that would have opened the door to more abortion bans. She hopes that will translate on other state ballots this November.

INSKEEP: Sarah, thanks for the update.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Sarah McCammon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.