In discussions around divisive topics, it’s easy for misinformation to be spread. It’s especially easy when that misinformation is anger and fear inducing. Considering the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, let’s cut through the noise and take a minute to break down exactly what state abortion restrictions are and what they are not.

1. Is abortion illegal?

Whether abortion is legal is a question that has been returned to the states. This does not mean that abortion is now illegal across the entire United States. There are 23 states with abortion bans that were unenforceable until the Supreme Court’s recent decision. These states are now able to enforce, or work towards enforcing, restrictions on abortion.

2. Will medical treatments for miscarriage become illegal?

While the medical term “abortion” refers to a pregnancy that ends prior to 20 weeks gestation, including miscarriages, abortion restrictions and bans are written specifically to elective and/or induced abortions. Elective and induced abortions are abortions with the sole intent of killing a developing human. This means that a state’s abortion ban will not criminalize miscarriage.

3. What about when the mother’s life is at risk, like with ectopic pregnancies?

There are no states with an abortion ban that criminalizes abortion or early delivery when it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. Special attention has been given to ectopic pregnancies in the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson, stoking fears that women will not be able to receive treatment for this life-threatening condition under an abortion ban. This is not true. Even in states that do not directly address ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in which the developing embryo implants outside of the uterus), the medical procedure to treat the ectopic pregnancy would be legal under the “life of the mother” exception.

*A more thorough, evidence-based explanation of these, and other questions surrounding abortion policy, can be found in the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) Committee Opinion, State Restrictions on Abortion: Evidence-Based Guidance for Policymakers.

**To find whether your state has an abortion ban or restrictions, see Pro-Life Laws Protect Mom and Baby:  Pregnancy Women’s Lives are Protected in All States, by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Your continued prayers for our state and nation, and support to help abortion-vulnerable women, are needed now more than ever. Give today so that Lutheran Family Service can continue to reach young women facing unplanned pregnancy, guiding them to make life-affirming choices, all at no cost to her.

Emma Squire
Unplanned Pregnancy Counselor & Adoption Caseworker
Lutheran Family Service

In need of encouragement? Check out the fantastic article A Standing “O” for You – A Life Advocate by Rev. Dr. Jim Lamb, Life Advocate for Lutheran Family Service.

Want to know what you can do right now to help abortion-vulnerable women in Iowa? Read the article 5 Takeaways for Iowa, Pro-Life Christians by Kim Laube, Director of Life Ministries for Lutheran Family Service.

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