National News Desk

More states ban abortion this week as several ‘trigger laws’ go into effect

Pro Abortion Rights Protesters Confront Anti Abortion Activists
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images, FILE

(WASHINGTON) — Five more states are set to severely restrict abortion this week, adding to the growing number of laws that have taken effect since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Three states — Idaho, Tennessee and Texas — had trigger laws go into effect Thursday after being required to wait 30 days following the reversal of Roe before the bans could be enacted.

Additionally, North Dakota has a trigger law in place to make abortion illegal that may go into effect Friday and Oklahoma has a law with higher penalties for providers going into effect at the end of the week.

The states with trigger laws had effectively banned abortion since the Supreme Court reversed Roe but the new laws go a step further.

Previously, Tennessee had banned abortions after fetal cardiac activity could be detected, which is about six weeks’ gestation. But the new law makes performing abortions a felony punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

There are only exceptions if the mother’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy would result in serious bodily injury. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Meanwhile, in Texas, abortions were prohibited in nearly all circumstances, including rape and incest, following the Supreme Court’s decision. There are only exceptions if the mother’s life or health is in danger.

Abortions providers can incur penalties of no less than $100,000 and may lose their professional license for performing the procedure.

Similarly, in Idaho, prior to the law, abortions had been banned after six weeks. The new law makes it a felony to perform an abortion in almost all circumstances.

However, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday against part of the ban after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit saying the ban violated a federal law guaranteeing access to emergency medical care at Medicare-funded hospitals.

“It’s not about the bygone constitutional right to an abortion,” Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the Federal District Court in Idaho wrote. “The court is called upon to address a far more modest issue — whether Idaho’s criminal abortion statute conflicts with a small but important corner of federal legislation. It does.”

North Dakota had a near-total abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger, which was temporarily blocked in court last month after the state’s sole abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic located in Fargo, sued.

A hearing Friday will decide whether the injunction will be extended while the case proceeds through court or if it will go into effect.

During this time, the Red River Women’s Clinic has moved its abortion services across state lines to Moorhead, Minnesota, about five minutes away from Fargo.

“Regardless of whether it goes into effect, or the 2023 North Dakota legislature is going to pass even something more restrictive, yes, we’re here and we’re providing services,” Tammi Kromenaker, director of Red River Women’s Clinic, told ABC News. “Access to abortion has essentially not changed for patients who have to travel, you know, to us, but it’s the principle of the thing, knowing that abortion is illegal in their state.”

She said a week ago she spoke to a patient in North Dakota who thought she wouldn’t even be able to access services.

“I spoke to a patient from North Dakota who said, ‘Oh, my God, did I miss it? Did I miss my chance?’ were her literal words,” Kromenaker said. “And I said, ‘No, we are here. We’re moving to Moorhead; we’ll see you there.’ And she just was so relieved because she literally thought she missed the opportunity to have an abortion.”

In addition to patients thinking that they can’t access services provided by the clinic, there are physical barriers too.

“The Fargo clinic is literally five minutes away from the Moorhead clinic, but for some patients, they had to drive three, four or five hours one way just to get to Fargo,” Kromenaker said. ‘That’s already a really big challenge to many patients who have to come from the western part of the state. You know, take time off from work, pay for gas, arrange child care.”

She added, “We live in a part of the country where winter is very challenging for travel. I remember a time in this last winter when there was such a bad snowstorm that every Interstate in the state was closed down. The patients literally could not get here.”

Additionally, Oklahoma was already enforcing laws banning abortion, but the latest ban adds further penalties.

Senate Bill 612, signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt makes performing abortion a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000.

The only exception under the law is if the mother’s life is in danger.

ABC News’ Nadine El-Bawab and Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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