Abortion battles in state capitols to watch in 2023

Battles over abortion are heating up across the United States, especially in state capitol buildings as lawmakers wrestle with how much to restrict or expand abortion access, Reuters reports.

Several months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, ending the federal constitutional right to an abortion, it is now up to states to determine the rights of women. 

There are several massive battles playing out in states right now, both in restrictions and in expansions. 

Florida, Kansas, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Wyoming are looking to restrict abortions. 

Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington are looking to expand abortion rights. 

In Florida, there is a 15-week abortion ban signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis that is being challenged in court. But lawmakers are considering even stricter measures, such as a 12-week ban. DeSantis said last week that he would sign a ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy if the Republican-controlled legislature passes such a measure.

Kansas voted in favor of state abortion rights in a ballot measure last year. But it has not stopped Republican lawmakers from proposing measures like a near-total ban on abortion and prohibitions on prescribing abortion pills over telemedicine. 

Idaho lawmakers have introduced legislation that would make it illegal to help a minor get an abortion in another state without their parent or guardian’s permission. 

In Montana, Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking to overturn a 1999 state supreme court ruling, which found that the state constitution protected a right to abortion. Conservatives want to restrict abortion further than the current 24-week limit. 

Nebraska Republicans have introduced a six-week abortion ban. It is currently legal for up to 22 weeks. 

In North Dakota, the state supreme court is due to rule on a challenge to a trigger ban – a total abortion ban that immediately went into effect when Roe was overturned – but which has since been blocked while the case proceeds.

South Carolina Republicans are introducing a near-total abortion ban, as well as a 6-week ban this year. It comes after the state supreme court recently struck down a six-week abortion ban in a 3-2 vote. 

Wyoming is in the midst of passing a bill banning the use or prescription of medication abortion pills. Abortion is legal until viability, around 24 weeks, while a state court is reviewing a challenge to a near-total trigger ban.

Meanwhile, four states are looking to expand abortion rights. 

Michigan abortion rights advocates scored big wins in the November 2022 election,  securing a Democratic majority in the legislature and enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. A bill introduced by Democratic lawmakers to repeal a 1931 law banning abortion is expected to pass.

In Illinois, the governor signed a law protecting abortion providers and out-of-state patients from legal attacks waged by other states.

The Minnesota legislature passed a bill codifying abortion rights in state law, as well as a right to contraception and fertility treatment. 

Washington lawmakers have introduced a bill that would enshrine abortion and contraception rights in the state constitution. 

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