What Will Happen if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?

President Donald Trump has made his first Supreme Court nomination of his presidential term, appointing Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the bench.

Whether Gorsuch makes it through the confirmation process – which many expect he will – or another candidate of President Trump’s choosing is seated instead, it’s highly likely that the resulting court will be just one judge away from overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that makes abortion legal in all 50 states. And as we are learning, that’s a landscape that leaves abortion inaccessible for many, and it may be getting worse.

According to NBC News, a report from the Center for Reproductive Rights declares that two-thirds of the states in the U.S. are likely to make abortion illegal if Roe is overturned and the decision on whether election abortion should be legal or not is returned to each state legislature.

“Based on an analysis of party control in state legislatures and governorships, as well as existing laws and constitutional provisions, the report said 22 states were at the highest risk of banning abortion. Most are in the central and southern US,” NBCNews reports. “Four of them — Louisiana, Mississippi, and North and South Dakota — have laws in place that would automatically make abortion illegal if Roe v Wade were to be overturned. Eleven states were classed as an intermediate risk. And in the remaining 17, abortion rights were said to appear secure.”

While only four states currently have legislation in place that would immediately cut patients off from safe, legal abortion care, the rest of the 22 states in the high risk connotation are highly likely to make abortion unobtainable within their borders, as well.

What is most alarming, however, is the literal wall these states make across the middle and southern portion of the country, leaving those people isolated from the states where abortion may still be legal – primarily in the Northeast and on the West Coast. It’s a wall that is only likely to get thicker over the next few years as state legislatures in the South get their own “trigger” laws on the books.

Most recently to join the trend is Alabama, which just announced that this legislative session they will prep for the overturning of Roe.

According to the Times Daily, the state GOP is prioritizing, “A constitutional amendment declaring Alabama a pro-life state ‘so we will be prepared to take action when Roe V. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court,’ and a bill protecting medical personnel from being forced to perform abortion procedures that violate their moral beliefs.”

Texas state Senator Bob Hall is introducing something similar in his state as well.

Even the “moderate risk” states in the U.S. can be more in danger of becoming places where abortion may be completely illegal. Illinois, considered one of the more accessible states when it comes to getting abortion services, has a trigger law of its own, and one that abortion rights activists are desperate to get off the books before the landscape changes for good.

“I think if we had tried to do it in the past, even the recent past, we would be a laughingstock because [overturning Roe] was never going to happen,” Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy told the Chicago Sun Times. “We would have had same reaction: ‘Why are you fixing something that’s not broken?’ We knew it wasn’t fine, and we’re here now. Now it is an emergency.”

Illinois isn’t alone in being proactive, either. Rhode Island, another state on the “moderate risk” list, is also working a bill through to safeguard the right to a legal abortion.

“Titled the ‘Reproductive Health Care Act,’ the bill that [state Rep. Edith] Ajello is re-introducing – with 34 co-sponsors in the 75-member House – says: ‘Neither the state, nor any of its agencies, or political subdivisions shall: Interfere with a woman’s decision to prevent, commence, continue, or terminate a pregnancy provided the decision is made prior to fetal viability; Restrict the use of medically recognized methods of contraception or abortion; or Restrict the manner in which medically recognized methods of contraception or abortion are provided,”’ the Providence Journal Reports.

New York is also preparing, with Governor Andrew Cuomo himself leading the charge.

“As Washington seeks to limit women’s rights, we seek to protect them, and as they threaten reproductive rights, I propose a constitutional amendment to write Roe v. Wade into the New York State Constitution to prevent any attack on the right to choose,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement on his website. ”We will not allow the progress of the women’s movement to be stopped, and we must seize this opportunity to bring the state and the nation forward and stand up for women’s health. Make no mistake, we will always protect the right to choose in New York.”

One justice is unlikely to change the federal abortion laws and send the decision back to the states, meaning that legislatures still have years to get their own laws on the books denying or defending the right to a legal abortion. Without a dramatic change in local state legislatures, however, it will be a strong possibility that abortion post-Roe will mean traveling to New York, D.C., California, Chicago or New Mexico in order to have a legal procedure, or not having it done legally at all.

Photo credit: Robin Marty, via flickr


Siyus C
Siyus C1 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Beth D
Beth D1 years ago

Ok, people, you are entitled to your opinions, but the bottom line is: It's none of your business! It is the women and her Dr's business. It is an agonizing decision and a very personal one. So get the hell out of my body and worry about your own. Just because abortion is legal, you are not being forced, by the govt, to have one. So why should you, or anybody be forced, by the govt, to give birth? How about those who want to outlaw abortion, be forced to raise these unwanted kids then? Oh and don't try to tell me that glob of cells in the petrie dish is a person.

Karen H
Karen H1 years ago

I see no "pro-life" (anti-abortion) person has answered my question: what would you do if a woman walked up and handed you a baby and said, "I can't raise this child. It's now yours." Either you're still thinking about it, or you've admitted to yourself (and don't want to admit to us) that you'd turn around and walk away, not giving a damn about the baby you worked so hard to save while it was in the womb.

Lisa Hofmann
Lisa H1 years ago

What will happen if Roe is overturned? Easy. Women will die.

Women will continue to have abortions, whether or not they are 'legal.' Lawmakers just need to decide if the bodies of dead women in streets, alleys, hospital rooms, hotel and motel rooms, private apartments, cars, and anywhere and everywhere else all over this country are really worth saving some bits of tissue which cannot walk, talk, or VOTE.

Araceli M
Araceli Mar2 years ago

Our bodies, our decision.... whatever the situation PERIOD!

Deborah W
Deborah W2 years ago

If you have to get your parents' permission to go on a field trip, or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion -- perhaps it's time for education to include a fuller explanation of responsibility/accountability and long-term consequences, contraception options, etc. among age -appropriate groups. What you don't know can hurt you ...

Brett C
Brett Cloud2 years ago


Brett C
Brett Cloud2 years ago


Donn M
.2 years ago

The choice will just go back to the states where it should have stayed all along.