A Roe Reversal Would Mean Pre-1973 Abortion Bans in 9 States Could Be Enacted

Antiquated laws banning abortion, passed in nine states before the Supreme Court legalized the procedure, could be re-enacted if the Court knocks down its Roe v. Wade decision.

The landmark ruling that a woman’s constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion became the law of the land in 1973. Since then, though, right-leaning state legislatures around the country have enacted upwards of 1,200 restrictions making it increasingly difficult – sometimes impossible – for women to actually get the procedure. Even worse is likely around the corner.

A much-feared reversal of Roe would compound the indignity by putting the question of abortion legality right back in the hands of state legislators. They would once again have the power to determine if women could access the procedure within their borders. In the nine states with pre-Roe abortion bans still on the books, that decision already has been made. And for women and doctors who live in those states – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Wisconsin – getting or performing an abortion would no longer be an option. There, abortions would be illegal. 

That’s why voters have to push their state legislatures to repeal such restrictive legislation. As lawmakers in Massachusetts showed, it can be done. Until recently, Massachusetts was among the states with pre-Roe abortion bans. But in July 2018, after it had passed in both houses of the state legislature, the governor signed into law the NASTY (Negating Archaic Statutes Targeting Young) Women Act, which protects women’s access to abortion. And in January 2019, New York lawmakers passed the Reproductive Health Act, which safeguards abortion access after 24 weeks when fetuses are not viable or if the mother’s life is at risk.