More Bans Take Effect—And Biden Administration Has Mixed Results In Court Challenging Them


State abortion bans continued to go into effect across the country this week—though one was blocked in court—and the Biden Administration had only partial success in its attempts to challenge them under federal law, as the U.S. marked two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Key Facts

Abortion “trigger laws” took effect Thursday in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas, and an Oklahoma law also went into effect that imposes harsher criminal penalties on abortion providers than the state’s existing trigger ban.

North Dakota’s trigger law was blocked in court Thursday before it could take effect on Friday, but the ruling will have little practical effect since the state’s sole abortion clinic had already moved to Minnesota.

Idaho’s abortion law was limited in federal court before it took effect, as a judge sided with the Biden Administration that the ban—which only allowed abortions if the pregnant person’s life was at risk—conflicted with federal law that requires hospitals to perform abortions if medically necessary even when it’s not life-threatening.

A federal judge in Texas took the opposite view of how to handle the federal and state laws, however, blocking the Biden Administration’s guidance that healthcare providers should perform abortions when medically necessary, even when it conflicts with state law—though the ruling only applies in Texas and not nationwide.

A special congressional election in New York on Tuesday provided further evidence that voters are turning out in support of abortion rights, as Democratic candidate Pat Ryan won a battleground district after campaigning heavily on his support for reproductive rights.

President Joe Biden met with state and local leaders on Friday to discuss ways to fight against abortion bans, and the Department of Health and Human Services released a new report outlining the strategies it’s using to protect abortion rights and sent a letter to governors encouraging them to use Medicaid funds to help cover abortion costs for pregnant people traveling from out of state.

Abortion In The Courts

As Texas’ trigger law took effect this week, abortion rights advocates filed a new lawsuit in federal court Tuesday that tries to preemptively block the law from being used to punish people who obtain or assist people who obtain an abortion out of state. Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin also filed a motion this week asking a court to dismiss state Attorney General Josh Kaul’s lawsuit challenging the state’s 173-year-old abortion ban, which has halted abortions in the state even as Kaul has vowed not to enforce it. In Michigan, where the state’s similar pre-Roe ban has already been blocked in court, a court said Wednesday it would not hear an appeal from Republican lawmakers who are trying to put the decades-old abortion ban back in effect. Abortion rights advocates were dealt a blow in Florida, however, where an appeals court formally threw out an earlier injunction that blocked the state’s 15-week abortion ban, leaving the policy in place as litigation against it plays out.

Midterm Elections

Anti-abortion advocates’ longshot recount effort for Kansas’ ballot measure on abortion rights wrapped up over the weekend, affirming voters’ landslide rejection of a constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for new restrictions. Mark Gietzen, an activist bankrolling the recount, is now suing for another recount to take place statewide, however, after the first recount only took place in several counties due to a lack of funds. Michigan is also now closer to having its own ballot measure in November on abortion rights, as the state’s Bureau of Elections recommended Thursday that state canvassers greenlight the referendum before they meet August 31. Polling continues to show voters are enthusiastic about abortion rights, with a new Pew Research poll finding 56% of voters believe abortion rights will be “very important in their midterm vote,” up from 43% in March, and a Florida judge was voted out of office on Tuesday after refusing to let a minor get an abortion because of her GPA. The increasing evidence that most voters don’t want anti-abortion candidates and policies is starting to affect some Republicans’ campaigns: Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters scrubbed language from his website that described him as “100% pro-life” and expressed support for a fetal personhood law. He now professes to only support bans on late-term abortions.

Tech Companies

Google and Yelp both announced this week they would explicitly label listings for so-called crisis pregnancy centers that counsel pregnant people against abortion, following criticism that users were being directed to those facilities when searching for information on obtaining an abortion without it being clear what they actually were. Facebook also came under scrutiny after the social network removed a post from Planned Parenthood that shared information and resources about medication abortion—a move that parent company Meta claims was a mistake. The post has since been restored.

Further Reading

As 3 More Abortion Trigger Bans Take Effect, Here’s Where Laws Are Being Enforced — And Where They’ve Been Blocked (Forbes)

North Dakota Abortion Ban Blocked In Court—Here’s Where State Lawsuits Stand Now (Forbes)

Idaho Abortion Ban Restricted In Court As Judge Sides With Biden Administration (Forbes)

Court Blocks Biden Administration Guidance Requiring Abortions During Medical Emergencies—At Least In Texas (Forbes)

Google Will Label Verified Abortion Clinics In Search Results (Forbes)