The battle over the right to an abortion shifted from the federal focus to the states.
After a weekend of furious protest in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturn of Roe v. Wade, a wave of lawsuits crashed across the United States.
Conservatives in roughy half of America’s states quickly moved to end or dramatically, drastically restrict reproductive rights. Liberals in about 20 other states scrambled to preserve rights.
The national debate over reproductive rights suddenly turned into a patchwork.
Law experts say that from here on, the focus will be at the state level. Lawyers and experts say that while the U.S. can continue to fantasise about federal solutions or a nationwide agreement, the reality of a federal solution is slim.
In Kentucky, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, abortion rights advocates sued their states to stop or delay bans on abortion after a similar court challenge was filed over the weekend in Arizona. In South Carolina, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic moved to withdraw a federal court challenge to a ban in the state, but apparently only so that the organisation can file a new challenge in state courts.
In Louisiana and Utah, judges temporarily blocked the enforcement of laws that would have banned abortions.
Abortion rights advocates are now taking the strategy of asking courts for temporary injunctions so that in the very least, abortions can continue for the short term.
Many of the most immediate actions occurred in states trying to impose bans or restrictions. But effort is being made as well in states that currently stand strong in abortion rights in order to protect those rights as well.
In California, a supermajority of state lawmakers placed a constitutional amendment on this November’s midterm ballot explicitly protecting abortion rights for the state.
In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee said he will pursue a challenge in the state constitution to make abortion rights a permanent right.
In states trying to ban abortions, the legal battles are quickly accelerating.
In Ohio, there is a law coming up the chain to ban abortions at the six week mark. After the Supreme Court ruling, a judge allowed the law to take effect. But law experts challenging the law in federal court believe protections for individual rights in Ohio’s constitution will make a compelling argument that abortion is actually protected by the state.
In Florida, abortion providers deployed arguments in a court hearing that privacy rights in the state’s Constitution preempt a new state ban on the procedure after about 15 weeks.
In Louisiana, the district court temporarily blocked a so-called trigger law that would have immediately criminalised nearly all abortions after health providers argued the bans were unenforceable and vague, and violated the state constitution.
In Utah, the judge is also temporarily blocking the enforcement of an abortion ban in the state as well.