Abortion Laws by State: These Are Your Rights

Abortion is legal throughout the U.S. But after a certain point in the pregnancy, forty-three states prohibit your right to terminate. Do you know your local abortion laws?

abortion laws
Photo: Illustration by Emma Darvick

In the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a person's constitutional right to abortion, but maintained that states could prohibit the procedure once the fetus reached viability—the point at which a fetus is capable of sustaining life outside the womb—if those policies met certain requirements.

Since then, the Supreme Court has consistently reaffirmed the fundamental right to abortion, while also allowing states to determine new limits on a pregnant person's ability to obtain one. While most states' abortion laws establish a legal window under which abortion may be performed, a newly established Texas law limits a pregnancy to six weeks before termination is banned—a fraction of the average limit in the majority of states, and before many people with a uterus even realize they're pregnant. At present, all states allow the procedure to preserve the life and health of the mother, and most allow termination in the case of severe fetal anomalies.

A March report from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy research organization, identified states as the "main abortion battleground in 2021," citing 28 abortion restrictions enacted in a single week in April alone. Some of the policies enacted in 2021—including those challenging abortion bans at a specific point during pregnancy—represent direct challenges to Roe v. Wade, and are "intended to provide the Supreme Court with the opportunity to overturn abortion rights outright and are among those closest to reaching the Court's docket," according to the report.

Here are the current laws in your state as of September 2021:

Alabama — On May 27, Gov. Kay Ivey signed HB237, requiring providers to "preserve the life of a child who is born alive" following an abortion or attempted abortion, and granting the "same rights, powers, and privileges" granted "any other child born alive at any location in this state."

Alaska — In September, Alaska legislators introduced the "Life at Conception Act," a bill that would ban legal abortion in the state and classify abortion as murder subject to felony assault/homicide charges. Until the bill is passed and enacted, abortion remains legal without restrictions in the state.

Arizona — On April 27, Gov. Doug Ducey signed SB1457, banning abortions sought solely due to genetic abnormalities. The bill further bans mail delivery of abortion-inducing medication and restricts organizations that provide abortion care from receipt of state funds.

Arkansas — On March 9, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed SB6, the Arkansas Unborn Child Protection Act—a near-total abortion ban. The bill bans all abortions, including in the case of rape or incest, its sole exception if continuing a pregnancy endangers the pregnant person's life. Later that month, the governor approved SB85, requiring that individuals seeking an abortion receive an ultrasound with the image displayed and a simultaneous verbal description of the fetus from the provider. Hutchinson also signed SB289, creating a refusal clause for health care service providers on the grounds of their religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. Both laws entered into effect in June.

California — Abortion is legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Colorado — In May, Gov. Jared Polis signed SB142, making public funds such as Medicaid fully available for abortion services. Previously, the funds were available only in the case of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Outpatient abortion is available up to 26 weeks.

Connecticut — Abortion is legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Delaware — Delaware allows abortion up to the 20th week of gestation.

Florida — Abortion is legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Georgia — In May 2019, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a "heartbeat bill" banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected—as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Barring challenges, the measure is set to go into effect January 1. Until then, abortion remains legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Hawaii — In April, Gov. David Ige signed HB576, allowing some nurses and qualified medical professionals to perform abortions. Abortion is legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Idaho — On April 27, Gov. Brad Little signed HB366, mandating that physicians check for a fetal heartbeat, and banning abortion if a heartbeat is detected, except in the case of a medical emergency. The bill is paused to go into effect when and if a federal appeals court upholds a similar heartbeat ban.

Illinois — Illinois abortion laws allow for the procedure up to the 25th week of pregnancy, while requiring parental notification for a minor's abortion at least 48 hours prior to the procedure.

Indiana — On April 29, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed HB177, requiring providers to inform patients about the possibility of discontinuing medication-induced abortions after they are initiated. Such so-called "abortion reversal" laws have been enacted in several other states, despite the fact that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists calls the research behind it "unproven, unethical, and unsupported by science."

Iowa — In June 2018, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down the state's unconstitutional 72-hour abortion waiting period. Abortion is legal in Iowa up to the 20th week of pregnancy.

Kansas — In January, the state legislature voted to refer an amendment to the state's constitution in a special election slated for August 2022. HCR 5003 would amend the state's constitution to affirm that there is no constitutional right to abortion or government funding for abortion, although the Legislature may pass abortion-related laws in cases of incest or rape and when the mother's life is endangered.

Kentucky — In January, the state legislature enacted SB9, requiring physicians to "give medically appropriate and reasonable life-saving and life-sustaining medical care and treatment to all born-alive infants," including preserving the life of a fetus delivered alive after an abortion. Lawmakers further enacted measure HB2, granting the state's attorney general greater authority over abortion clinics that violate state laws. As in Kansas, the legislature also approved measure HB91, which would amend the state's constitution by asserting that there is no constitutional right to abortion or required government abortion funding. The measure will appear on the ballot in the state's November 2022 general election.

Louisiana — On July 2, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed HB578, requiring providers to inform patients about the potential for a medication-induced abortion "reversal," similar to the Indiana measure. Edwards also signed HB357, which amends the state's judicial bypass system for minors, and requiring that minors may only petition a judge for an abortion without a parent's consent within their own local jurisdiction rather than in the areas of the state where abortion clinics are located. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there are four abortion clinics in Louisiana; in its 2017 report, 94 percent of Louisiana counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 72 percent of Louisiana women lived in those counties. Both laws were effective Aug. 1.

Maine — Abortion is legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy.

Maryland — Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones said last week she will most likely push legislation to protect abortion rights in the Maryland Constitution. While legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy, Maryland allows exceptions for fetal abnormality.

Massachusetts — Abortion is legal up to the 24th week of pregnancy, with exceptions made for cases of maternal life and health.

Michigan — Abortion is legal in Michigan up to 19.6 weeks gestation following a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.

Minnesota — In May 2019, state lawmakers introduced provisions in the Senate's Health and Human Services finance bill to make abortion illegal after 20 weeks. The procedure is currently legal up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Mississippi — In March 2019, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a "heartbeat bill" banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Like the Alabama law, the heartbeat bill does not allow exceptions for rape or incest. Mississippi has one abortion clinic which currently performs abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Missouri — Missouri's Governor Mike Parson signed a law in May 2019 banning most abortions in the state after the eighth week of pregnancy, one of the strictest bans in the U.S. It bans abortion in almost all cases, including when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, but allows exceptions when the mother's life is in danger. Abortion is currently legal in Missouri up to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Montana — On April 26, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law three bills restricting abortion: HB136 bans abortion at 20 weeks, HB140 requires doctors to offer patients an opportunity to view an ultrasound and hear a fetal heartbeat before an abortion, and HB171 adds regulation to how medication-induced abortions can be administered, such as requiring that the drugs used in the procedure be provided by a qualified medical practitioner. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, such laws seek to block the use of telemedicine for prescribing abortion-inducing medication, a practice that became widespread during the pandemic.

Nebraska — In May 2019, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts tweeted, "Nebraska is a pro-life state, and we support the brave pro-life champions and their work in Alabama and Georgia." Ricketts later issued this statement: "(Fetuses) don't have their own voice. So that's why we've been congratulating other states that have been going out there and passing pro-life legislation," he said. "We are going to continue to look for the pro-life legislation we can pass here in our state. We've passed a number of bills here, and we want to continue to do that." Abortion is currently legal in Nebraska up to 22 weeks gestation.

Nevada — Nevada law allows mothers to have a doctor-induced abortion within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, abortion in the state is legal if the mother's life or health is in danger. Currently awaiting a vote by legislators, a new bill introduced here—the Trust Nevada Women Act—would modify state statute to eliminate requirements to verify the age of mothers seeking abortion and the requirement that doctors obtain written consent that would preclude coercion by a third party. The bill would also remove criminal penalties for providers of abortion-inducing drugs and allow non-doctors to perform abortion procedures.

New Hampshire — In June, Gov. Chris Sununu signed the state's budget, which includes an abortion ban after 24 weeks except in the case of medical emergency.

New Jersey — New Jersey does not have any abortion restrictions.

New Mexico — In February, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved measure SB10, repealing abortion restrictions in the state that previously predated Roe v. Wade, including criminal penalties for certain abortions. The bill was effective in June. New Mexico does not have any abortion restrictions.

New York — New York does not have any abortion restrictions.

North Carolina — Abortion in North Carolina is legal up to 20 weeks. A pregnant person must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage them from having an abortion, and then wait 72 hours before the procedure is provided; they must also undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, and the provider must offer them the option to view the image. The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion.

North Dakota — Abortion in North Dakota is legal up to 22 weeks gestation. A pregnant person must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. The parents of a minor must consent before an abortion.

Ohio — In January, Gov. Mike DeWine signed measure SB260, prohibiting the use of telemedicine for medication-induced abortions and requiring patients to take an initial dose of any drug in the presence of a physician. Slated to go into effect in April, the ban was temporarily blocked by a judge on April 7. On June 30, DeWine signed the state budget, which included a provision that allows providers to refuse to perform health care services on the basis of religious beliefs, among other abortion-related restrictions.

Oklahoma — On April 27, Gov. Kevin Stitt on April 27 signed a bill to immediately outlaw abortion immediately if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, widely known as a "trigger" bill. Stitt additionally signed three abortion restrictions into law: HB2441, requiring physicians to check for a fetal heartbeat, banning abortions if a heartbeat is detected except in the case of physical risks for the pregnant person; HB1102, which bans providers from performing abortions outside of medical emergencies and threatens a one-year revoking of their medical licenses; and HB1904, requiring that all abortions be administered by providers who are board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. According to the Guttmacher Institute, some 96 percent of Oklahoma counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 53 percent of Oklahoma women lived in those counties.

Oregon — Oregon protects the right to abortion throughout the entire pregnancy.

Pennsylvania — Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania up to the 24th week of gestation, although the patient must receive state-directed counseling and wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.

Rhode Island — Abortion is legal in Rhode Island up to the 24th week of pregnancy.

South Carolina — In February, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into effect SB1, a ban on abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detectable. The measure, which was temporarily blocked by a federal district court, made exceptions for the pregnant person's life or, in the case of rape or incest, was fewer than 20 weeks gestation.

South Dakota — In February, Gov. Kristi Noem approved measure HB1051, which would require physicians to extend the same medical treatments they would use to preserve a child's life to "every child born alive immediately following an abortion or an attempted abortion." The next month, the governor signed measure HB1110, which would prohibit abortion based on a fetus' Down syndrome diagnosis or possible diagnosis, excepting dangers to the patient's life. Noem additionally signed HB1130, mandating that abortion providers tell patients about the possibility to discontinue medication-induced abortion after it has been initiated, as well as provide other required information during pre-abortion counseling.

Tennessee — After an initial appointment, there is a 48-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. Abortion in Tennessee is illegal after 20 weeks.

Texas — On May 19, Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB8, a so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill, banning abortion as early as six weeks. The bill calls on private citizens to sue people who aid a pregnant person in getting abortions, from medical providers to ride-share drivers to those who gave the pregnant person financial assistance for the procedure. The bill went into effect Sept. 1, resulting in what the Guttmacher Institute reported as a "20-fold increase in driving distance" for Texas residents to obtain an abortion. In June, Abbott also signed HB1280, a "trigger" bill that would immediately outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Utah — In 2016, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that requires doctors to administer anesthesia or painkillers for a fetus before any abortion at 20 weeks gestation or later—the first law of its kind in the country.

Vermont — Vermont has no legal restrictions on abortion.

Virginia — In March, Gov. Ralph Northam signed measure SB1276/HB1896, which lifted the state's abortion coverage ban within some state health insurance plans, and which took effect in July. Abortion is legal in Virginia up to 25 weeks. Post-viability, the procedure can be performed if the pregnancy threatens the mother, is a result of rape or incest, or involves fetal impairment.

Washington — In April, Gov. Jay Inslee signed HB1009, requiring that college student health plan coverage includes maternity care to "also provide a covered person with substantially equivalent coverage to permit the abortion of a pregnancy." Abortion in Washington State is legal up to 25 weeks gestation.

West Virginia — In April, Gov. Jim Justice signed HB2982, which calls for counseling about the possibility of "reversing" a medication-induced abortion. Patients can receive an abortion up to 20 weeks during their pregnancy at the state's single abortion clinic.

Wisconsin — While abortion is legal in Wisconsin up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, lawmakers recently introduced a so-called "born alive" bill addressing an extremely rare occurrence in which a baby is born alive during a failed abortion attempt. Under the bill, abortion providers would be required to care for babies that survive an abortion. Failure to do so would be a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a provider convicted of killing such a baby would face life in prison.

Wyoming — Gov. Mark Gordon in April signed the Born Alive Infant-Means of Care bill, which requires physicians and providers to treat any "viable infant aborted alive" with the same care as any other infant born alive. The bill went into effect in July.

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