The legal wrangling over states’ so-called trigger laws is continuing to unfold a month after the Supreme Court ended Americans’ constitutional right to abortion, creating uncertainty for abortion providers and people seeking the procedure.

Trigger laws:Thirteen states had these on the books dating to 2005. They were intended to ban or limit abortion almost immediately if Roe v. Wade was overturned and are among the 26 states that were considered certain or likely to move quickly to ban abortion. 

The Supreme Court issued its judgment on July 26, a pro forma step in the process that triggered a 30-day countdown in some states, including Tennessee, which prohibits all abortions while outlining an unusual defense for abortion providers in limited cases.

Legal challenges: Abortion providers have sued several states. Many argue these laws violate state constitutional protections. A look at where things stand:

  • Judges put trigger laws on hold Louisiana, Kentucky and Utah
  • Other challenges have been made in Idaho, Oklahoma and North Dakota

What’s next: More lawsuits are likely, said Mary Ziegler, a Florida State University law professor who focuses on abortion. But such challenges may amount to “buying time,” she said, in states with more than one type of abortion ban and where legislatures are dominated by abortion opponents

The future of abortion access in many states will ultimately hinge on upcoming state elections and ballot measures, said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It all hangs in the balance in 2022 and ultimately 2024,” he said earlier this month. 

Here’s the latest:


What happened: A Planned Parenthood group that operates two clinics in Idaho filed a challenge to the state’s 2020 trigger law on June 27.