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'Trigger laws' have been taking effect now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right. The overturning of Roe v. Wade today has abortion rights supporters and opponents across the country scrambling to figure out what's next. NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon covers abortion policy and joins us now. Hi, Sarah.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK. So give us an overview here. What have you seen happening immediately?

MCCAMMON: So within hours or even minutes, really, of this decision being released this morning, I was hearing reports from clinics in several states that they were stopping abortion services right away. Louisiana and Kentucky have been at the top of the list of states with abortion bans that were expected to take effect right away. My contacts at clinics in those states told me they were shutting down. I talked to Tamarra Wieder. She's Kentucky's state director for Planned Parenthood.

TAMARRA WIEDER: We were preparing for the decision to come down, and so we have already made the next steps in making sure that they had appointments in places that we knew would be available to them, whether that is in Indiana or Illinois. We do anticipate, though, that Indiana will lose abortion services very soon.

MCCAMMON: And that's because there is a whole web of state laws that work in different ways and at different times, Ailsa. And today we've just been seeing a cascade of those taking effect and also of state officials responding to them.

CHANG: Right. Let's talk about those laws. Like, what do these different types of laws look like? How will they work?

MCCAMMON: So some require state officials to take some kind of action to implement laws banning abortion. That's been happening in states like Missouri, for example, where the attorney general quickly announced the trigger law there banning abortion was taking effect. Others take effect after a period of time. Tennessee state officials say abortion will be illegal there in 30 days.

Others have old pre-Roe v. Wade laws still on the books. And in Texas, in addition to a law that took effect last year and banned most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, the state of Texas has several other, even more restrictive laws in place that have kind of been waiting in the wings. And now that's creating some uncertainty about which ones apply now that Roe has been overturned. Jeffrey Hons is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas. He says his region is shutting down today while they try to sort things out.

JEFFREY HONS: The pause in our abortion care, while very interruptive to our dedication to our patients, is the right thing to do so that we have time to ensure that Planned Parenthood organizations remain compliant with the law and maintain the strength of our organizations to provide health care to all of our patients.

MCCAMMON: And one independent clinic in San Antonio told me they had patients in the waiting room today that they had to cancel appointments for.

CHANG: So what is the next step for abortion rights advocates now? Like, what are they telling you?

MCCAMMON: They're weighing a variety of potential legal strategies. In some states, they'll be challenging abortion bans under state constitutional provisions - Ohio and Kentucky, for example. And that could buy abortion providers some time. But ultimately, Ailsa, about half of states in this country have laws either banning or deeply restricting abortion. And by and large, they're expected to be allowed to take effect eventually.

CHANG: Right. Well, for those who do oppose abortion rights, it goes without saying today marks a major victory that's taken decades to achieve. What's ahead for them at this point?

MCCAMMON: Yeah. From them, I'm hearing a tremendous amount of celebration. Activists have been working toward this goal at all levels of government for almost 50 years. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, of course - where this case originated was Mississippi. She praised the decision during a press conference today and said the fight is not over.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LYNN FITCH: Now our work to empower women and promote life truly begins. The court has let loose its hold on abortion policy-making and given it back to the people.

MCCAMMON: She called for improving services for pregnant women and for children. And beyond that, many abortion rights opponents want to continue passing restrictions at the state level and also at the federal level if they can.

CHANG: That is NPR's Sarah McCammon. Thank you, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.