What to know about the latest court rulings, data and legislation on abortion in the US

What to know about the latest court rulings, data and legislation on abortion in the US
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A judge in Montana struck down abortion restrictions, the attorney general in Missouri accused Planned Parenthood of illegally transporting minors for abortions and new data shows how the way abortions are performed continues to change in a country where some states have banned and others protect access .

More than a year and a half since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled overturning Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion nationwide, the details of what that means are still in flux. With lawsuits still pending and ballot questions looming, that’s the one thing that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

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Here are things to know this week about developments across the country.

A Montana judge on Thursday rejected restrictions on abortion passed in 2021, potentially giving the Montana Supreme Court a chance to review its 1999 ruling that protected a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable.

The 2021 laws were suspended and never came into effect.

They would have banned abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation, prohibited the prescribing of abortion pills via telehealth, required a 24-hour waiting period after giving consent, and required health care providers to show women an ultrasound scan or measure the heart tone of the woman. hear the fetus before having an abortion.

The state government plans to appeal the ruling, potentially setting up another showdown at the state’s highest court. The Supreme Court has previously declined to reverse the 1999 decision — including when it backed a lower court’s decision to pause enforcement of the 2021 laws.

A judge also suspended enforcement of more restrictions the state passed last year, including a ban on dilation and evacuation abortions — the most common procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion rights groups are pushing for a ballot question to amend the state constitution to protect reproductive freedom, including the right to abortion.

There have been legal and legislative battles over abortion access in the U.S. for generations, but everything changed when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protected access across the country.

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Since then, bans have gone into effect in most Republican-controlled states, including 14 that ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with varying limited exceptions. Most Democratic-controlled states have tried to protect access.

These changes are reflected in data released this week by #WeCount for the Society of Family Planning. The group notes that the number of abortions per month nationally is comparable to what it was before the court ruling.

While the number of monthly abortions has dropped to nearly zero in states with bans, the number has risen in states that allow abortion — and a greater share of them are using pills prescribed by telehealth.

The West Virginia Senate this week approved a measure to require eighth- and 10th-grade students to watch a video on fetal development.

The “Baby Olivia” video is being used in classrooms in North Dakota and there is legislation seeking to require it in Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.

Although it was approved by the West Virginia Senate, Republican Senate Majority Leader Tom Takubo, a pulmonologist, objected, saying the video contains “extremely inaccurate information” that contradicts science. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, South Dakota wants to make another video to help medical providers implement the only exception to the state’s abortion ban. Under state law, abortion is only allowed to save the woman’s life.

This week, the Senate approved the plan, which had already been passed by the House this week. It now goes to Republican Governor Kristi Noem for her signature.

Missouri’s attorney general is suing Planned Parenthood, claiming the organization illegally transports minors from Missouri — where most abortions are banned — to obtain them in Kansas.

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The claim is based on a hidden camera video from a conservative group in which someone wants an abortion for a fictional 13-year-old.

Planned Parenthood denies the claim.

The office of Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican who is running for election this year, has not said whether criminal charges could also be filed.

The U.S. abortion ban aims to criminalize doctors and others who perform abortions, and in many cases those who help women seek abortions — but they do not allow charges against those women themselves.

Yet a 26-year-old who performed an abortion in Texas in 2022 was charged with murder there and spent two nights in jail before being released and charges dropped.

This week it was announced that the prosecutor who oversaw the case has been punished for his role in it. Starr County District Attorney Gocha Ramirez must pay a $1,250 fine and have his license suspended for 12 months under a plea agreement with the State Bar of Texas.

Ramirez says he made a mistake and agreed to the deal because it keeps his office running.

Alabama lawmakers introduced bills this week to protect fertility clinics after the state Supreme Court issued a ruling last month that could be devastating for them.

The court ruled that frozen embryos are the legal equivalent of children. Three major clinics soon stopped offering in vitro fertilization, a devastating outcome for people trying to expand their families.

Abortion rights advocates — including U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, who visited Alabama this week — have framed the court’s decision as a consequence of the overturning of Roe v. Wade and part of a conservative attempt to ban abortion by declaring that embryos and fetuses have human rights.

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