Reconsidering Roe: Abortion Rights in the Heartland

Reconsidering Roe: Abortion Rights in the Heartland

Almost 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion across the country via Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision could be in jeopardy, according to a draft opinion published by Politico.

In late 2021, the court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case debating the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The consequential case has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade for good, leaving activists on both sides of the issue wondering, what comes next?

The answer: it’s complicated. In the Midwest, three states have enacted trigger laws, which are designed to outlaw abortion as quickly as possible if Roe is overturned. However, not all states are jumping to remove abortion protections, and others are still on the fence.

 Reconsidering Roe: Abortion Rights in the Heartland
  • Three out of 12 Midwestern states are on record as having a trigger ban that would effectively outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Of these three states, North Dakota is the only one to make an exception for cases of rape or incest. 
    • Missouri
    • North Dakota
    • South Dakota
  • Unlike other Midwestern states that have created trigger bans within the past twenty years, Wisconsin currently maintains a pre-1973 law banning abortion. While currently unenforceable under Roe v. Wade, these circumstances could rapidly change if Roe is scrapped. 
    • Wisconsin
  • As the only Midwestern state with explicit abortion protections, Illinois has already become a sanctuary for those seeking out-of-state abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, if Roe is overturned, 14,000 out-of-state patients will likely flock to southern Illinois for abortion care. 
    • Illinois
Reconsidering Roe: Abortion Rights in the Heartland
  • While individuals on both sides of the abortion debate wait with bated breath to learn Roe’s fate, Midwesterners seeking abortions are already encountering obstacles. In 2017, the majority of Midwestern counties did not have access to an abortion clinic, according to the Guttmacher Institute
    • Illinois: 90%
    • Iowa: 93%
    • Indiana: 96%
    • Kansas: 98%
    • Michigan: 87%
    • Minnesota: 97%
    • Missouri: 97%
    • Nebraska: 97%
    • North Dakota: 98%
    • Ohio: 93%
    • South Dakota: 98%
    • Wisconsin: 97%
 Reconsidering Roe: Abortion Rights in the Heartland
  • While Roe still remains a law of the land, no state can ban abortion outright. However, states can enforce how late into the pregnancy individuals can get an abortion. Eight Midwestern states ban abortion after 22 weeks, while four states ban abortion at the point that the fetus is viable (generally between 24-28 weeks), according to abortionfinder.org. 
    • 22 weeks
      • Indiana
      • Iowa 
      • Kansas
      • Nebraska
      • North Dakota
      • Ohio
      • South Dakota
      • Wisconsin
    • At viability (generally 24-28 weeks)
      • Illinois
      • Michigan
      • Minnesota
      • Missouri
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