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Abortion: What to know about trigger laws going into effect

Stacey B. Lee, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Associate Professor, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss which states are implementing trigger laws for abortions following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, protests to the decision, and the outlook on future reversals by the Supreme Court.

Video Transcript


- The Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision being felt far and wide, women losing their constitutional right to an abortion. Let's welcome in Stacey B. Lee for more on the legal implications here. Nice to have you, Stacey. Let's start with these 13 states with what they call trigger laws. How many of those states will right away ban abortion? And how many states eventually will ban it?

STACEY B. LEE: In those 13 states as of the publishing of the opinion, abortions are illegal. And in those states, there's no carve out for rape or incest. They were laws that were on the books prior to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade prevented those laws from taking place.

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, those laws automatically spring into effect. In addition, there are another 12 states that will severely restrict women's access to abortion, while not making it totally illegal. So in total, about 25 states across the United States will limit, or absolutely restrict a woman's access to abortion.

- And where's the best place people can get information about how their rights are changing? Other than these trigger states, where some of them will go in automatically, where should people be looking so that they can really understand the current situation?

STACEY B. LEE: States have been doing an excellent job of rolling out information in terms of what services and facilities are still open to females to access abortion services. A number of states have also enacted Safe Harbor in that if, for example, your state no longer makes abortion clinics available to you, where can you go in other states. Planned Parenthood is also an excellent resource for helping people get the information that they need about how to access either abortion clinics, or to get prescriptions for abortion that can take place with the taking of a pill.

- I've heard some suggest that it will touch off a legal Civil War in the States. What do you think the next legal battleground is? And will it spread throughout the country? Or is this relatively a done deal?

STACEY B. LEE: A done deal in terms of states have the right to determine a woman's access to abortion. Turning it into a battleground in that with the upcoming midterm elections, President Biden has urged voters to go to the voting booths, and make sure that the Democrats, which he feels are necessary, retain the house, get two more seats in the Senate, so that at the federal level, there can be protection for women to get abortion services.

Outside of that, Justice Thomas' opinion in the Dobbs case was very interesting. He has opened the door to a number of fundamental rights, or rights that are now suspect, and that is the access to contraception, same sex marriage. All of these things he says are not fundamental rights protected by the Constitution. And they are issues that in his opinion, appropriately should be turned over to the States. If that becomes the case, and yes, I think that you will see a war zone within all the states as they begin to redefine some of the rights and protections that for decades, if not half a century, we consider to be the right of the individual to determine.

- And granted this is just one Justice, but do we in terms of the momentum and the support that those issues have perhaps for being unraveled.

STACEY B. LEE: There is a fair amount of support. If you look at some of the draft opinion that was leaked, the Justices who wrote the opinion, with the exception of Roberts, met beforehand and have a very set agenda in terms of issues that they would like to have re-examined. Their agenda is also shared by many of the pro-life institutions. So there is a general goal of a nationwide ban on abortion. So that is on the table now. I think that there was the sounding call for re-examination of rights, or access to contraception, and same sex marriage.

- We've seen a lot of reaction from leaders, President Biden. Protests obviously had already started outside of the Supreme Court. Where do they go from here? Is there any sort of recourse? Or as Dave said, is this essentially a done deal?

STACEY B. LEE: There is recourse if Voters go out. If the Democrats hold on to the House, and have enough support within the Senate to end the filibuster, then at the federal level, which was tried as soon as the opinion was leaked, there can be federal legislation to codify a woman's rights to have abortion services available.

- We do thank you for joining us today. Stacey B. Lee, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Associate Professor. Thank you so much.