On June 4, 2022, the US Supreme Court handed down a decision that overturned Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that allowed abortions to be performed before a fetus would become viable outside of the womb. The decision to overturn Roe v Wade was 6-3 and had immediate ramifications throughout the country. Many states had laws in place (trigger laws) that immediately went into effect, banning nearly all abortions within those state jurisdictions. Other states have moved very quickly to pass laws to ban abortions.
The Overturn of Roe v. Wade Initiated Trigger Laws
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states had laws in place ready to take effect as soon as the court made its decision. These laws are called trigger laws because they were “triggered” into place and took effect immediately after the overturning of Roe. Thirteen states in the US had these trigger laws in place.
Additionally, 13 additional states are very likely to move quickly to ban abortion now that the long-standing right to an abortion has been overturned.
In the remainder of the states in this country, a woman’s right to abortion remains in place. The US Supreme Court did not ban abortions in this country; they relegated the decision to the states, similar to the way abortions were controlled before this landmark abortion decision in 1973.
What This Means for Pennsylvania
Currently, abortion is legal in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Several Democratic lawmakers in Pennsylvania have moved to codify the right to abortion into law. There will also likely be plans from republican lawmakers to move towards an abortion ban, similar to the bans in effect in other states.
As of right now, the following requirements are in place in order for a woman to secure the right to an abortion in Pennsylvania:
- The patient must receive counseling that includes information designed to discourage abortion, and then the patient has to wait 24 hours before the procedure.
- Health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can only provide funding for abortion in cases of life endangerment, or in cases of incest or rape.
- Abortion is covered by insurance policies of public employees only in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.
- Parents of minors must consent before the minor receives an abortion.
- Abortions can only be performed beyond 24 weeks of gestation only in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Abortions for the performance of sex selection are prohibited in Pennsylvania.
This is a Fast-Changing Landscape
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landscape of abortion access in this country is changing rapidly. This Supreme Court decision will likely stand for quite some time, so we strongly encourage you to learn and read about abortion rights access in your particular area. If you are looking for information relating to the termination of a pregnancy, please speak to your healthcare provider when making these important decisions, and a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney if you need legal representation.
If you have any questions about the political ramifications, or you wish to change the laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you need to speak to your state and federal elected representatives. Reach out to their offices for assistance.