Opinion: A Breakdown of Trigger Laws and What They Are

K. Revs

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Obviously the overturning of Roe v. Wade shook the nation in a huge way. Whether you love it or you hate it, you know about it and you know the repercussions of it.

But what many people don’t know, is that the decision didn’t necessarily make all abortions in the country illegal. Rather, it stops the protection of abortions on a national scale. In short, individual states can now do whatever they want to do instead of being held accountable by the higher power of government.

And with the decision a slew of previously unenforceable laws are now able to come into effect. We call these pieces of legislation “trigger laws”.

What is a trigger law?

Trigger Laws are laws that are passed even while knowingly unenforceable, but with the expectation that they can become enforceable if certain circumstances change. For instance, after Roe v. Wade was passed abortion was allowed throughout the country, even as states passed laws restricting or banning the act. The trigger laws, however, were at the ready and could kick into effect if the federal law was ever struck down.

Now is that time. Currently, there are 13 states with trigger laws primed and ready to be enforced as soon as possible.

But not all trigger laws are created equal, with some including exceptions for things like rape, incest, or any abnormalities in the fetus. But even these exceptions can hold tight restrictions. Mostly due to the difficulties that might arise trying to get approved for the procedure on the basis of the above circumstances.

While the ACLU and a handful of other organizations try to fight back by filing prompt lawsuits against them, we need to stay educated on trigger laws especially as more and more states will begin to use this most recent ruling to strip women of their rights.

The Trigger Laws Taking Effect Since Roe v. Wade

Here is a comprehensive list of the 13 states that have trigger laws that are now considered enforceable in regards to a woman’s right to choose.

Arkansas:

  • Total ban on abortion once the attorney general certifies the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Only exception is if the pregnancy is proven life-threatening
  • Performing or having an abortion leads to a fine of $100,000 and a prison sentence of up to ten years

Idaho:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Goes into effect 30 days after the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Those who assist or attempt to someone with an abortion faces between two and five years in prison
  • Those providing abortion assistance will have their licenses suspended for six months and permanently revoked if they repeat the offense

Kentucky:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Only exceptions are proof of a life-threatening pregnancy or a pregnancy that a medical provider ends by accident
  • The state can charge anyone who helps or attempts to help someone abort with a 4 Class D felony, which can lead to one to five years in prison

Louisiana:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Only exception is if a doctor considers a pregnancy life-threatening
  • Those who assist or attempt to someone with an abortion faces up to ten years in prison and fines anywhere from $10,000 to$100,000

Mississippi:

  • Total ban on abortion once the attorney general confirms the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Exceptions include a pregnancy that is life-threatening or if a person is a victim of rape and has a police report verifying the crime
  • Performing or having an abortion can lead to up to ten years in prison

Missouri:

  • Abortion banned after 8 weeks and takes effect when the attorney general confirms the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Exceptions include a life-threatening pregnancy or a pregnancy that could lead to serious injury
  • Performing an abortion will lead to a class B felony, up to five to fifteen years in prison, and suspension or revoking of a medical license.

North Dakota:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Goes into effect 30 days after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, after the attorney general gives official recommendation and is green lit by the state’s legislative
  • Exceptions include a life-threatening pregnancy or pregnancies that occur as a result of rape or incest
  • The abortion ban includes dilation and evacuation abortion methods

Oklahoma:

  • Abortion is completely outlawed once the attorney general confirms the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Performing, helping with or having an abortion can lead to up to five years in prison

South Dakota:

  • Complete ban on abortions
  • The only exception is if the mother’s life is in danger
  • Criminal charges can include up to two years in prison and/or $4,000 in fines, as well as a felony charge

Tennessee:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Goes into effect 30 days after the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Exceptions include a life-threatening pregnancy or a pregnancy that could lead to serious injury
  • Those who assist or attempt to someone with an abortion faces a Class C felony and between three and fifteen years in prison, with fines up to $10,000

Texas:

  • Abortion banned after 6 weeks
  • Goes into effect 30 days after the overturn of Roe v. Wade
  • Exceptions include a life-threatening pregnancy or a pregnancy that could lead to serious injury
  • Those who assist or attempt to someone with an abortion faces a first degree felony and between five and ninety-nine years in prison, with fines up to $10,000
  • They may also be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries two to twenty years in prison.

Utah:

  • Near-total abortion ban
  • Once Utah’s legislative general council approves it, it will become effective
  • Exceptions are provided in cases of life-threatening pregnancy, fetus abnormalities that can lead to irreversible harm, or when rape or incest result in pregnancy
  • Anyone who assists with an abortion will be charged with a second-degree felony

Wyoming:

  • Wyoming’s trigger law takes action 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned and certified by the state governor
  • Exceptions are provided in cases of life-threatening pregnancy, fetus abnormalities that can lead to irreversible harm, or when rape or incest result in pregnancy
  • Anyone who violates the ban faces up to fourteen years in prison

As things are changing everyday, make sure you keep yourself informed of what’s happening in your state. And if you’re looking for something, anything, you can do to help then consider donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

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