If Roe v. Wade is canceled, here’s what happens

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The Supreme Court could make a sweeping change to abortion jurisprudence in the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – potentially allowing states to dramatically change access to the procedure.

A leaked February draft notice published by Politico said the court could go in that direction, although the decision is not final.

Observers have previously suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn decades of precedent after Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that limited government restrictions on abortion. Doing so could allow state legislatures to pass laws banning abortions prior to fetal viability.

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People gather at an anti-abortion rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It’s also possible the court will set a vague new standard for abortion restrictions — opening the floodgates for further litigation and slowing Republican efforts to ban the procedure.

How quickly state laws might change varies from state to state. Many red states already have trigger laws designed to restrict abortion if Roe is overturned. For example, Texas currently advocates an effective six-week ban, but would revert to a more restrictive law if Roe is overturned. The state, which Roe originated, has a trigger law designed to automatically reinstate its previous ban.

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Many other states have trigger laws that would effectively ban all or nearly all abortions. These could receive advice from anti-abortion groups like Americans United for Life (AUL). AUL government affairs attorney Katie Glenn told Fox News her organization is ready to advise attorneys general on how they might respond to the Supreme Court’s decision next summer.

Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the United States Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday, December 1, 2021 in Washington, DC.  (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the United States Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court of the United States Wednesday, December 1, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Besides AUL, other anti-abortion groups like the Family Policy Alliance have already begun preparing for political battles after Roe’s overthrow. In blue and purple states, Republicans will likely encounter fierce resistance to the newly proposed bans, creating the possibility that state laws may not change or at least not for a long time. And if the Democrats win more seats in the House, they will be prepared to continue pushing a codification of Roe at the federal level.

Liberalized abortion access is set to continue in states like New York, which passed a bill in 2018 to codify Roe.

Anti-abortion groups have warned that Roe is more extreme than most realize. While Roe legalized abortion early in a pregnancy, he left exceptions open for the life and health of the mother at later gestational ages.

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The decision in Doe v. Bolton, issued on the same day in 1973 as Roe v. Wade, argued that the mother’s life and health encompassed a wide range of reasons. In his majority opinion, former Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that “medical judgment may be exercised in light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman’s age – relevant to the well- be of the patient. All of these factors can be related to health.”

“The beginning of a new stage” in the wars against abortion

As many abortion advocates have noted, Roe’s end is just the beginning of another stage in their movement.

“If Roe is finally overthrown, it’s not the end of the pro-life movement, but the beginning of a new stage,” Center for Ethics and Public Policy President Ryan T. Anderson tweeted Wednesday. “It is time to pass laws to protect babies, to develop family-friendly policies, to put in place support systems for women. Much of this already exists, and now is the time to take it to the next level.”

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As Fox News previously noted, the battle isn’t just political. Pregnancy centers and charities across Texas have already begun to discover what a post-Roe world might look like.

Overturning Roe would return abortion law to the sometimes messy democratic processes that influence state law. In blue states, this will likely mean a strong emphasis on public education and changing public opinion on the issue.

The conservative Family Policy Alliance recently launched an “After Roe” campaign on its website that helps visitors identify the laws in their state. It is also designed to help them connect with their state family policy council and take action on the issue. The organization says the site will offer ways to partner with other anti-abortion groups such as Susan B. Anthony List and the pro-life American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Maria Peña holds a rosary and signs out in front of a building housing an abortion provider in Dallas, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.

Maria Peña holds a rosary and signs out in front of a building housing an abortion provider in Dallas, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

“Family Policy Alliance, along with Family Policy Councils across the country, stand ready to compete with the abortion industry – and win! – for every precious life,” said Craig DeRoche, President and CEO. of the leadership of Family Policy Alliance.

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Much of the efforts of anti-abortion groups will represent a continuation of their ongoing efforts: proposing legislation, educating Americans, and pushing for change. The other side has signaled it doesn’t want to give up, with Democrats already pushing a federal codification of Roe and the idea that President Biden should pack the courts.

Abortion advocates like Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., have indicated they will continue to fight on the issue regardless of what the Supreme Court does.

“We won’t stop. No one is free until everyone is free. Free abortion,” she told a rally outside the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, Axios reported on the aggressive attention groups like Planned Parenthood are having for the 2022 midterms.

“The opportunity is that people are enraged,” Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson reportedly said. “What we saw in Texas, and what people are going to walk away from [the Mississippi oral arguments with]is a level of rage that we could experience in a world six months from now – where our children have fewer rights than we have right now.”

She added that rabies will be seen “in state homes across the country throughout 2022.”

Students for Life Action (SFLA), a grassroots organization active in all 50 states, has already pushed state legislatures and intends to bring in reigning measures on chemical abortions. The abortion pill is expected to gain popularity as it can be mailed to women and administered remotely.

This option has already been the subject of an executive order in South Dakota. It allows women to bypass the typical clinical setting and is expected to face hurdles with new restrictions. It’s also cheaper, but has been criticized by anti-abortion groups as significantly increasing the risk of complications.

“We are seeking to introduce and seek roll call votes in favor of the Life at Conception Act or Heartbeat Bill in 15 states, bans on chemical abortion in 8 states and support pro-life ballot initiatives in Kentucky, Kansas and, pending certification, Massachusetts,” SFLA President Kristan Hawkins told Fox News.

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She added that they were “targeting 26 key states in the primary and general elections with our Pro-Life Accountability Project.”

“And we have over 100 days of action planned for 2022, which include lobby days, door-to-door, rallies and direct contact with voters.”

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