A 158-year-old abortion ban became a present-day fact of life in Arizona last week when a state judge ruled it could be enforced in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning constitutional protection of abortion rights in June.
In other states, long-dormant, sometimes century-old abortion restrictions passed by all-male legislatures during a time of limited scientific knowledge are also shaping abortion policy.
Some of those laws, which generally call for imprisonment for providers and don’t allow for abortion even in the first weeks of pregnancy, have influenced the availability of abortion. Some are now in litigation. Others have been superseded by more recent bans.
The bans were invalidated by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision but weren’t repealed and remained on the books in nine states when the court rescinded Roe. Their mere existence has influenced policy and health care access in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The ramifications of the old laws are “huge, enormous,” said Jenny Higgins, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and director of the school’s Collaborative for Reproductive Equity (CORE).
In Wisconsin, “health care systems are putting their services on ice because they can’t risk having their providers or patients commit felonies,” Higgins told USA TODAY. “It’s amazing that these laws that are this old are suddenly coming back to have an effect.”
Here are some of the decades-old abortion laws shaping the debate on reproductive health care access.
Old law prevails:Arizona’s 1864 law banning nearly all abortions is in effect, judge rules
Historic decision:Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion
Seeking constitutional protection:Michigan Supreme Court: Abortion amendment must appear on ballot
What is the abortion law in Arizona?
At the request of Arizona’s Republican attorney general, a judge ruled