The State of U.S. Abortion Rights
From the Frontlines

The State of U.S. Abortion Rights

The facts. What’s at risk. And what you can do about it.

The most restrictive abortion laws we’ve seen in generations are currently spreading like wildfire across the U.S. To equip you with the information you need to know to fight and protect our legal right to abortion, here are:

  • The facts on what’s changed.
  • What’s *at risk* to change.
  • And what you (yes, you!) can do about it.

Is abortion still legal in all 50 states?

Yes. Abortion is *still legal* in all 50 states. While on Tuesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (a woman!) signed into law a bill that would ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy, this law is not set to take into effect for six months. This means that today, it is still legal to get an abortion in Alabama. It also means that we have the ability to fight this law (more on that below).

What’s the difference between the Alabama law and the fetal heartbeat bills passed in Ohio, Mississippi and Georgia?

The Alabama law bans abortion at every stage of pregnancy, and criminalizes doctors who perform this procedure for up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at risk, but NOT for rape or incest.

The fetal heartbeat bills make abortion illegal as soon as the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected. A heartbeat can usually be detected at the 6-week marker, before many women even know they are pregnant.

The Alabama law bans abortion at every stage of pregnancy, and criminalizes doctors who perform this procedure for up to 99 years in prison. It includes an exception for cases when the mother’s life is at risk, but NOT for rape or incest.

Unless challenged in court, the Mississippi and Ohio laws go into effect July 1, 2019. In Georgia, unless challenged, this law goes into effect January 2020.

Additionally, Utah and Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester.

What does all of this mean for Roe v. Wade?

According to the ACLU, the Alabama Human Life Protection Act lays the groundwork for a Supreme Court battle. If this case makes it to the Supreme Court, we could see Roe v. Wade overturned, and by extension, our federally guaranteed legal right to abortion abolished.

With no federal law in place, states would be fully empowered to determine abortion rights at the individual state level. In practice, this would result in further division of reproductive rights between red states and blue states, exacerbating the reproductive access gap facing women in America.

Is there anything I can do about it?

YES! While the risk here is very, very real, this is not a done deal. We can and must fight these laws on the state and federal levels. This is not a “women’s issue,” but a human rights issue that men and women must step up to defend. Here is a quick list of things you can do today to help protect abortion rights in America:

#1: Get out and vote.

Vote in upcoming elections at the local, state and federal level for candidates who share your values. It’s your constitutional right; use it!

#2: Share the facts.

These laws are both scary and confusing. Don’t succumb to fear tactics. Share the facts.

#3: Share your story.

One in four women in America has had an abortion. If you feel comfortable, share yours. Normalizing abortion starts with telling stories about why choice matters not just for women, but for all of us.

#4: Donate to organizations working to protect and provide abortion services at a critical time.

And remember, whether or not you can donate money, you can offer your time & talent. Here are a few local and national organizations we support and are donating to:

The Yellowhammer Fund

The Yellowhammer Fund is a local organization and member of the National Network of Abortion Funds. They provide funding for anyone seeking care at one of Alabama’s three abortion clinics and will help with other barriers to access (travel, lodging, etc.).

Planned Parenthood Action Fund

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is a nonprofit, non-partisan group. Backed by 12 million activists, donors, and other supporters all working to advance access to sexual health care and defend reproductive rights, PPAF fights to protect abortion rights on the state and federal levels — often in the face of extreme politicians trying to take it away.


NARAL Pro-Choice America fights for reproductive freedom for every person in every state. With their 2 million members, they organize and mobilize to protect that freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination.


“Alabama HB314 | 2019 | Regular Session.” LegiScan, 15 May 2019 (Link)

Axios. “Restrictive Abortion Laws Spread across America’s Red States.” Axios, 17 May 2019 (Link)

Ellis, Nicquel Terry. “‘Today Is a Dark Day for Women’: Planned Parenthood Vows to Challenge Alabama Abortion Ban.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 15 May 2019 (Link)

Watson, Elizabeth. “We’re Suing to Block Ohio’s Abortion Ban.” American Civil Liberties Union. 15 May 2019. American Civil Liberties Union. 17 May 2019 (Link)

Williams, Timothy, and Alan Blinder. “Lawmakers Vote to Effectively Ban Abortion in Alabama.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 May 2019 (Link)

Yan, Holly. “Alabama Just Enacted the Country’s Most Restrictive Abortion Law. What Happens Now?” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 May 2019 (Link)