It’s Women’s Equality Week—and Three More Total Abortion Bans Are About to Take Effect

Update Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7:18 a.m. PT: In response to a lawsuit from the Justice Department, a federal judge in Idaho blocked part of the anti-abortion law, set to take effect Thursday, that criminalizes performing an abortion when a patient’s health or life is at stake. This now-blocked provision would have allowed authorities to arrest any healthcare professional who performed an abortion. The near-total abortion ban, however, still took effect.

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Abortion rights activists gather at the Federal Courthouse Plaza in Austin, Texas, on June 24, 2022, after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images)

For women in the U.S., this week is usually a cause for celebrating the date in 1920, when our right to vote was finally enshrined in the Constitution. But this year is marked by a cruel irony. On Thursday, laws in Texas, Tennessee and Idaho will take effect that either outlaw abortions entirely, or increase penalties for doctors who perform them. The very next day, the U.S. will commemorate Women’s Equality Day. You’ll understand if we don’t feel much like celebrating. 

Abortion bans harm women—not only their health, but also by denying them equal opportunities in education, employment and politics. A report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates if all state-level abortion restrictions were eliminated, there would be over a half a million more women aged 15 to 44 in the labor force.

Before this week, total bans were already in effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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Before this week, total bans were already in effect in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota. (Center for Reproductive Rights)

The three more scheduled to take effect this week are summarized below.

Idaho

Idaho’s “trigger” law, set to take effect Thursdaybans all abortions, except in cases involving rape or when a woman’s life is in danger.

Earlier this month, the Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Idaho for restricting access to abortion to patients experiencing emergencies. This case marked the first Justice Department challenge since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade at the end of June.

Late Wednesday night, the Biden Justice Department was issued a small victory: The strict anti-abortion law will still take effect, but without the part of the law that criminalizes providers who perform abortions to save a pregnant patient’s life “in serious . U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, a federal judge in Idaho, wrote of his narrow ruling: “It’s not about the bygone constitutional right to an abortion. The court is called upon to address a far more modest issue—whether Idaho’s criminal abortion statute conflicts with a small but important corner of federal legislation. It does.”

Tennessee

Since the fall of Roe, Tennessee has had a six-week ban in place. (Most women do not know they are pregnant at this time, since a six-week ban only gives a person two weeks after their missed period to obtain an abortion.)

On Thursday, Aug. 25, nearly all abortions in the state will be outlawed. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

Texas

In Texas, abortion is already outlawed outright, thanks to an old 1925 law that Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) declared in effect once Roe was overturned.

On Thursday, a new law will take effect to increase the punishment for anyone who performs an abortion: life in prison and fines no less than $100,000.

Indiana and Arizona Bans to Take Effect in September

Indiana was the first state to pass a new abortion restriction after Roe‘s overturn. The law, Senate Bill 1, bans nearly all abortions and takes effect on Sept. 15. The law does make exceptions in the case of rape, incest or medical emergency, but complicated process is required for such abortions to be performed.

A law in Arizona banning abortion after 15 weeks is scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 24. In the meantime, Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R)—who is up for reelection in November—is pushing for a stricter one.

Editor’s note: Ms. is keeping track of the changing landscape of abortion care and will continue to update this tracker as state policies continue to morph and change.

The Center for Reproductive Rights’ “After Roe Fell” tool examines state-level laws and policies. Its interactive maps group states into five categories: expanded access, protected, not protected, hostile and illegal.

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

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About

Roxy Szal is the digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.