What All State Constitutions Say About Abortion, and Why It Matters

State constitutions and the judges who interpret them are a critical battleground for abortion rights.

Quinn Yeargain,    |    June 30, 2022

Florida’s state Supreme Court (Photo from felixmizioznikov/iStock)

Just days before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, another high court tossed aside a separate precedent that protected abortion rights. The new conservative majority on the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on June 17 that Iowa’s state constitution does not guarantee a right to access abortions, striking down a 2018 ruling that had held the opposite.

This week, though, a state judge in Florida temporarily blocked new abortion restrictions on the basis that they violate his state’s constitution. Lawsuits are now asking state judges in Idaho, Oklahoma, and Utah to affirm the presence of similar rights in their own constitutions.

As states rush to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, state constitutions—and the judges who have the power to interpret them—have emerged as critical battlegrounds. 

The rights and liberties protected by the federal Constitution only set a floor, not a ceiling, for the rights people enjoy at the state level. States cannot provide less protection than the federal constitution, but they can provide more. Every state constitution contains a bill of rights and other provisions that are semantically similar to the federal Constitution’s, and judges often interpret these state constitutional provisions more expansively. With federal lawsuits now effectively blocked on abortion, as on other issues, many of these state courts now offer a more promising playing field for progressive litigators.

In Kansas, for instance, abortion access is protected as of now by a 2019 ruling by the state supreme court that the state constitution provides a right to abortion. Many other state courts across the country have similarly established that their state constitutions recognize abortion rights. 

These rulings rely on varying provisions that are embedded in many state constitutions; most commonly, equal protection clauses, due process clauses, implied or explicit rights to privacy, and gender-equality provisions. (No state constitution has a provision that nominally enshrines a right to abortion, though there are active efforts to change that.) The presence of such clauses in a state constitution does not guarantee that courts apply it to abortion. Eleven states have clauses in their constitutions that mention privacy, for instance, but only some of their high courts have held that the provision protects abortion rights. Where they have, courts frequently rely on state-specific histories and the contexts of their adoption.

Even where courts have held that the state constitution protects abortion rights, there is not always robust access to abortion. In Kansas, the state supreme court’s 2019 holding coexists with very onerous restrictions. Mississippi’s court affirmed severe restrictions even while it affirmed a right to abortion in 1998, and its precedent has not been tested in decades, though state advocates hope it can now come into play. 

Still, as long as they’re standing, such interpretations are a shield against all-out bans. And they survive the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision to overrule Roe

Whether they multiply or atrophy now depends on battles that will be distinct to each state.

To enable a more informed picture of how state constitutions impact abortion rights, Bolts is publishing a state-by-state analysis of how state courts have interpreted their constitutions. The analysis also covers U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Many courts’ balance of power is precarious, and changes in their composition can massively upheave how a court interprets these provisions. The rapid shift in the Iowa supreme court’s jurisprudence followed changes to the state’s judicial nominating process, which gave Republican Governor Kim Reynolds more power over nominees and brought more conservative justices into office. Florida may be undergoing a similar shift. Its supreme court has interpreted the state constitution’s explicit right to privacy as protecting abortion rights since the late 1980s, but Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has reshaped the court’s liberal majority into a conservative supermajority—with potentially dire consequences for abortion rights in the state.

Inversely, Democrats flipped the Michigan supreme court in the 2020 elections; this now looms large over the fate of abortion rights. The court is considering whether to strike down the state’s pre-Roe abortion bans, and that lawsuit would face tougher odds if Republican justices held a majority of the seats.

This landscape is now in flux. Many courts are facing rapid decisions they’ve avoided so far, and the midterm elections and other appointments in upcoming years may reshuffle who has authority over state constitutions.

Bolts’s guide to 2022 state supreme court elections, published in May, shows all supreme court seats that are up this year across the nation, and how they could affect their state’s politics. Michigan’s high court could flip back to the GOP, as might Illinois and North Carolina’s, with major efforts for abortion. Conservatives also hope to gain in Montana, where abortion rights hinge on the state supreme court. Democrats hope to flip Ohio’s.

Where they can, pro-choice advocates are pursuing other avenues that would not rely on the vagaries of state supreme courts. This includes pressuring legislatures to strengthen state laws to championing constitutional amendments that explicitly codify the right to an abortion so as to not rely on judges’ interpretations of language like equal protections or due process clauses.

California and Vermont may become the first states to amend their constitutions to explicitly codify abortion rights this year; both states are voting on constitutional amendments in November. There could be still other amendments ratified this year protecting abortion rights, though one major push to join this trend has fallen short so far in New York.

Meanwhile, conservatives have sought to nullify or forestall rulings protecting abortion rights by amending state constitutions. In Tennessee and West Virginia, Republicans responded to decades-old rulings that recognized abortion rights by proposing constitutional amendments overturning those rulings; voters narrowly approved those proposals in both states. Similar efforts have failed elsewhere, however. This year, voters will decide amendments that say that the state constitution does not protect abortion rights in Kansas in August and Kentucky in November; the Kansas measure, if approved, would overturn the state supreme court’s 2019 ruling.

In each state, the stakes are muddled by the complicated mass of precedents, provisions, and rulings that make up its legal status-quo and govern whether the state constitution currently protects access to abortion—and if not, whether it likely could. We hope that the analysis below brings additional clarity.

For additional reading, see these resources compiled by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Guttmacher Institute, which will be invaluable to readers who want to learn more about these state court decisions.

Alabama

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No

Context: Alabama courts long established that the state constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion. In 2018, voters reinforced this by adding Section 36.06 to Article I of the state constitution, which recognized the rights of an unborn fetus and explicitly established that the constitution does not guarantee a right to an abortion.

Alaska

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: Since the 1990s, Alaska courts have interpreted the state constitutional right to privacy in Article I, Section 22, to include abortion rights. This precedent was established in 1997 with Valley Hospital Association v. Mat-Su Coalition for Choice and reinforced in 2019 with  State v. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest

Alaskans will vote in November on whether to hold a constitutional convention, and abortion has become a clear dividing line because reversing the 1997 ruling with a constitutional amendment would require a constitutional convention.

American Samoa

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The High Court of American Samoa has not ruled on whether the territorial constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

Arizona

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Arizona Constitution does contain an explicit right to privacy in Article II, Section 8, but the Arizona Court of Appeals declined to rule on whether abortion rights are protected in the constitution in a 2011 case
However, the Arizona Supreme Court held in 2002 that the state was required to provide funding for abortion services for low-income residents in some circumstances.

Arkansas

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Arkansas Constitution was amended in 1986 to add Amendment Article 68, which prohibits the use of public funds for abortions and establishes a “public policy” against abortion. Public policies have generally been held by state supreme courts to not be binding, but here could result in a state court holding that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.

Arkansas

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Arkansas Constitution was amended in 1986 to add Amendment Article 68, which prohibits the use of public funds for abortions and establishes a “public policy” against abortion. Public policies have generally been held by state supreme courts to not be binding, but here could result in a state court holding that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution.

California

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context The California Supreme Court has consistently held since the early 1980s that the implied right to privacy in Article I, Section 1, of the constitution encompasses abortion rights. In November 2022, Californians will vote on a constitutional amendment establishing an explicit right to abortion.

Colorado

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Colorado Supreme Court has issued a set of rulings since 1990 that have expressed some friendliness toward abortion rights, but these ruling have not established them as state constitutional rights. 

Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected anti-abortion constitutional amendments, including so-called personhoodamendments, though they did amend the state constitution in 1984 to add Section 50 to Article V, which bans the public funding of abortions, and subsequently rejected several amendments to remove the prohibition.

Connecticut

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No, but it’s complicated.

Context: In 1986, a superior court in Connecticut (the state’s equivalent of a trial court) recognized abortion rights under the state constitution on the basis of a right to privacy implied by Article I. But the Connecticut Supreme Court has declined to do so (most recently in 2010), and superior court rulings in Connecticut do not constitute binding precedent.

Delaware

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Delaware Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution contains any protections of abortion rights.

Florida

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: Since the late 1980s, the Florida Supreme Court has repeatedly interpreted the right to privacy that is contained in Article I, Section 23, of the constitution as including abortion rights. The court has routinely struck down state legislation that has infringed on the right. But with the new conservative majority on the Florida Supreme Court, these holdings are vulnerable. A trial court judge struck down the state’s new 15-week abortion ban this week in a case that is expected to work its way through the state system.

Georgia

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Georgia Constitution contains an implied right of privacy in Article I, Section 1, Paragraph 1, but the Georgia Supreme Court declined to say if abortion rights are protected under the state constitution in the 2017 case Lathrop v. Deal.

Guam

Guam does not have a constitution; it operates under the Organic Act of Guam, which can be modified by the U.S. Congress. Guam has no legal protections for an abortion.

Hawaii

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Hawai’i Constitution contains an explicit right to privacy in Article I, Section 6, but the Hawai’i Supreme Court has not interpreted that provision to include abortion rights. In a nonbinding opinion from 1994, the state Attorney General has suggested that the right to privacy does include abortion rights.

Idaho

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Idaho Constitution contains an implied right to privacy in Article I, Section 1, but the Idaho Supreme Court has not interpreted that provision to include abortion rights. Recently, however, a lawsuit was filed against Idaho’s “trigger law” that asks state courts to recognize such a right.

Illinois

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes, but it’s complicated.

Context The Illinois Supreme Court interpreted the equal protection and due process clauses in the state constitution’s Article I, Section 2 (though not the explicit right to privacy in Article I, Section 6) as protecting abortion rights in its 2013 decision in Hope Clinic for Women v. Flores. However, its decision in Hope Clinic held that the state constitution contained the same level of protections as the federal constitution. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the status of abortion protections under the Illinois Constitution is unclear.

Moreover, the court’s majority could flip to the GOP this fall, when the state holds two supreme court elections; “an Illinois Supreme Court dominated by Republicans could potentially have a vast impact on abortion laws in Illinois,” The Chicago Sun Times reports.

Indiana

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The Indiana Supreme Court declined to rule on whether the state constitution contains any protection of abortion rights in a 2005 case. Ten years later, in a 2016 case, the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that this is an “unresolved issue.”

Iowa

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The Iowa Supreme Court, in a 2018 ruling, held that the due process clause in Article I, Section 9, provided protections for abortions.  

In June 2022, however, the new conservative majority on the supreme court reversed that ruling, holding that abortion was not protected under the state constitution. The new case, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds, was testing the constitutionality of a 24-hour waiting period for abortions.

Kansas

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context In a 2019 case, the Kansas Supreme Court held that the equal protection clause in Section 1 of the state constitution’s Bill of Rights included abortion protections. 

A constitutional amendment that would overrule this decision and enable new restrictions is on the ballot in August 2022.

Kentucky

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The Kentucky Supreme Court has interpreted the state constitution’s privacy rights broadly in the past, for instance striking down a statute against sodomy in the 1990s. But it has not interpreted that provision to include protections for abortion rights. In November 2022, voters will decide a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish that there is no right to an abortion in the state constitution.

Louisiana

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: In 2020, voters added Section 20.1 to Article I of the constitution. It provides that the state constitution does not protect abortion rights.

Maine

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Maine Constitution contains robust protections of rights to liberty and safety, equal protection, and due process, but the Maine Supreme Judicial Court has not interpreted those provisions to protect abortion.

Maryland

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Maryland Court of Appeals (equivalent to the state supreme court) has not interpreted the state constitution to include abortion rights, although a 1989 opinion from the state Attorney General suggests that Article 24 of the Declaration of Rights could include abortion protections.

Massachusetts

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: Since the early 1980s, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has interpreted the state constitution’s due process clause in Article 10 of the Declaration of Rights to protect abortion rights in several cases

Voters in 1986 rejected a constitutional amendment that would have granted the legislature the power to regulate or prohibit abortions.

Michigan

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to rule on whether the state constitution protects abortion rights. 

In a 1992 case challenging abortion restrictions, it held that the state’s equal protection clause had identical protections as the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, which suggested that there may be a parallel right to abortion under the state constitution, but the court added it was “unnecessary to decide” that question. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has challenged Michigan’s 1931 ban on abortions, asking the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize that the state constitution guarantees a right to abortion.

Moreover, abortion access advocates are currently collecting signatures to place constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would enshrine abortion rights.

Minnesota

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: In its 1995 ruling in Women of the State v. Gomez, the Minnesota Supreme Court interpreted the state constitution’s implied right of privacy (in Article I, Sections 2, 7, and 10) to include a right to abortion.

Mississippi

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes, but it’s complicated.

Context: The Mississippi Supreme Court held in 1998 that the state constitution’s explicit right to privacy in Article III, Section 32, included a right to abortion. (In the case, Pro-Choice Mississippi v. Fordice, the court otherwise affirmed new restrictions on accessing abortions.) Moreover, in 2011, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception. 

Mississippi politicians passed a “trigger” law in 2017 meant to ban abortions in the state if the federal Supreme Court overturned Roe, but reproductive rights advocates filed a lawsuit after the Dobbs opinion, pointing to the 1998 ruling. That precedent is now vulnerable to being overturned by the conservative majority on the court, which would greenlight the ban. In addition, the court has not struck down abortion restrictions on the basis of the ruling, which has rarely been used. Still, the situation is introducing rare complications for a Deep South state. “As Mississippi’s trigger law has been discussed in the state and nationwide, no one has taken into account the fact that the state Supreme Court has said the Mississippi Constitution protects the right to an abortion,” Mississippi Today wrote this week. “Apparently, Mississippi legislators also had forgotten about the 1998 state Supreme Court decision when they passed the trigger law in 2007.”

Missouri

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Missouri Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

Montana

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: The Montana Supreme Court held in a 1999 case, Armstrong v. State, that the state constitution’s explicit right to privacy in Article II, Section 10, included a right to abortion. Recent efforts by conservatives in Montana to elect a conservative majority to the court, however, could call that holding into question.

Nebraska

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Nebraska Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

Nevada

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Nevada Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

New Hampshire

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The New Hampshire Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. The state ratified a state constitutional right to privacy in 2018, but this provision has not been tested in court as applied to abortion.

New Jersey

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes.

Context The New Jersey Supreme Court held in a 1979 ruling that the state constitution’s implied right to privacy in Article I, Paragraph 1, includes protection of abortion rights, which it applied in 2000 to strike down abortion restrictions.

New Mexico

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The New Mexico Supreme Court has declined to rule on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. But in a 1998 case, it ruled that the state’s equal rights amendment requires the state, when it provides healthcare to low-income residents, to also provide abortion services.

New York

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Unclear.

Context In the 1994 case Hope v. Perales, the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) struck down a law restricting abortion but it did so by issuing an unexpectedly narrow ruling that sidestepped the question of the extent to which the state constitution guarantees a right to abortion. The scope of the ruling remains unclear. Recent efforts by state Democrats to amend the constitution to codify abortion access as a right have not been successful.

North Carolina

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The North Carolina Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion; a 1997 ruling rejected claims that the state’s denial of public funding for medically necessary abortions violated the state constitution.

The narrow Democratic majority on the current court could prove more sympathetic to abortion rights in prospective future cases, but the partisan majority is on the line in two state supreme court elections this November.

North Dakota

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the state constitution did not recognize a right to abortion, in the case MKB Management Corporation v. Burdick. Later in 2014, state voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception.

Northern Mariana Islands

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The constitution of the Northern Mariana Islands explicitly outlaws abortion, and the territorial supreme court has not further elaborated on the legality of abortion. A 1995 nonbinding opinion from the territorial attorney general suggested that abortion rights may nonetheless be protected by the covenant between the United States and the territory, as well as the territorial constitution. However, this informal opinion seems unlikely to alter the legal landscape.

Ohio

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The Ohio Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to an abortion, but one of the state appellate courts rejected that argument in a 1993 case.

Organizations that support abortion access filed a lawsuit after the Dobbs decision, asking state courts to protect such a right under the Ohio constitution. The state supreme court has a narrow Republican majority that is on the line in the 2022 midterms.

Oklahoma

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. A case presently before the court is seeking to recognize that right.

Oregon

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Oregon Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to an abortion, though the Court of Appeals rejected that argument in a 1983 ruling.

The 1983 ruling by the Court of Appeals did find that, if the state is providing funding for medically necessary services for pregnancy and childbirth, then the state constitution requires that it provide funding for medically necessary abortions; but it explicitly said this ruling was not about establishing a constitutional right to abortion. In any case, the Oregon Supreme Court did not validate its lower court’s analysis in its own 1984 ruling.

Oregon voters have repeatedly rejected constitutional amendments that would have banned or severely limited abortions.

Pennsylvania

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held in the 1985 case Fischer v. Department of Public Welfare that the state constitution does not protect a right to abortion. (Given the liberal makeup of the current court, it is possible that its decision in Fischer could be revisited.)

Puerto Rico

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contain a right to abortion? Yes.

Context: The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has held since 1980 that the right to privacy in Article II, Section 8, of the constitution of Puerto Rico, which has historically had a broad application, provides protections for abortion rights. Lawmakers are still expected to push for new restrictions on abortion.

Rhode Island

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Rhode Island Constitution’s equal protection clause explicitly provides, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof.” The Rhode Island Supreme Court held in 2022 that that the state Reproductive Privacy Act is permissible under the state constitution—and that the impact of the state equal protection clause’s restriction doesn’t bar the legislature from recognizing abortion rights by statute.

South Carolina

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The South Carolina Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

South Dakota

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The South Dakota Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

Tennessee

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in a 2000 case Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee v. Sundquist, that the state constitution recognized a right to abortion. But in 2014, state voters added Section 36 to Article I of the constitution, which provided that the state constitution does not recognize a right to abortion.

Texas

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Texas Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. While a 1993 ruling expressed openness to it on the basis of a right to privacy, the court did not affirm this, and it is now strongly conservative. In 2002, the court rejected the argument that the state’s refusal to fund medically necessary abortions violated the Texas Constitution, and its current conservative composition makes it unlikely that the court would revisit this issue.

U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S Virgin Islands does not have a constitution; it operates under the Revised Organic Act of the Virgin Islands, which can be modified by the U.S. Congress. The Virgin Islands Code permits abortion.

Utah

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Utah Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. 

But a case presently in state courts is seeking to recognize that right; a lower-court judge has temporarily blocked the state’s trigger ban, and the state supreme court may end up weighing on the issue.

Vermont

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Unclear.

Context: The Vermont Supreme Court has not explicitly ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. In a 1972 case, the court struck down an abortion restriction as unconstitutional, but did not clarify whether it was relying on the federal or state constitution to do so—and it has not further elaborated on that in subsequent decisions. However, in November 2022, a constitutional amendment establishing an explicit right to abortion will be voted on.

Virginia

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Virginia Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

Washington

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? Yes, but it’s complicated.

Context: The Washington Supreme Court ruled in the 1975 case State v. Kroome that the state constitution’s implied right to privacy in Article I, Section 3, protects abortion. This decision relied on the holding that the state constitution contained the same level of protections as the federal constitution; in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, then, the status of abortion protections under Washington’s state constitution is unclear.

Following Dobbs, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee has called for a state constitutional amendment explicitly protecting abortion rights. Also, state progressives have been especially successful at tapping into the Washington State constitution’s “untapped potential” for civil rights thanks to a progressive majority.

West Virginia

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled in 1993 that the state constitution recognized a right to abortion. But in 2018, state voters added Section 57 to Article VI of the constitution, which provided that the state constitution does not recognize a right to abortion; the amendment effectively nullified the 1993 case.

Wisconsin

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Wisconsin Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion. 

A case presently in state courts brought by Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking for that right to be recognized under the state constitution. The supreme court’s conservative majority is on the line in the 2023 elections.

Washington, D.C.

The District does not have a constitution. It operates under the D.C. Code, which provides broad abortion rights, but Congress has the power to modify the D.C. Code. Congressional Republicans have already indicated their desire to outlaw abortion in D.C., as well as to take away its ability to govern itself.

Wyoming

Does a still-binding ruling hold that the constitution contains a right to abortion? No.

Context: The Wyoming Supreme Court has not ruled on whether the state constitution recognizes a right to abortion.

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