On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), a New York-based pro-choice advocacy group said abortion could quickly be illegal in some 30 states within a year if the Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which established a woman’s legal right to an abortion.
The story traces back to 1970 when Norma McCorvey filed a lawsuit, asking the court to strike down laws that prohibited her from obtaining an abortion. At the time, McCorvey used the pseudonym Jane Roe. The case, of course, was Roe v. Wade - and its holding was that women have a constitutional right to choose to terminate their pregnancies through abortion. The ruling, which was approved by the Supreme Court, consequently led to the legalization of abortion in all 50 states.
Over the years, McCorvey has revealed that she is the person behind the Roe v. Wade decision and that she has changed her views on the issue of abortion. McCorvey, who is now an anti-abortion activist, claimed that new scientific and legal developments undermined the Roe v. Wade decision’s validity. She contended that the case should be heard again in light of evidence that abortion cause women long-term emotional harm.
However, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans dismissed her suit on Sept. 14, 2004 reasoning that there has been no Texas state abortion law for more than 30 years.
The case is once again being referred to the United States Supreme Court. While predicting the lawsuit’s outcome, the Center for Reproductive Rights said that some states have constitutions or legislatures that would act quickly to end abortion should the roe v. Wade ruling be reversed.
"Anyone who thinks abortion will still be legal in most states across this country after a Roe reversal hasn't been paying attention," said Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The CRR report shows 21 states where abortion would almost certainly be illegal if Roe is overturned, nine states where abortion would likely be illegal, and twenty states where abortions would not immediately be prohibited.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, agreed that 30 states or more would move to restrict abortion if Roe was overturned. "The court is out of step with the rest of America," he said. "I have no doubt that you would see a majority of the states take action to protect unborn children and their mothers."
Twenty-one states likely to ban abortion: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Nine states somewhat likely: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.
Twenty states not likely to ban abortions soon: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.