As many as 17 states stand ready to roll back abortion rights should President Donald Trump appoint a Supreme Court justice to replace Anthony Kennedy with a nominee who skews the bench further to the right, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Trump vowed in his campaign that overturning Roe "will happen, automatically," if he were elected and could appoint justices to the court. More recently, as president, he criticized Roe for leading to "some of the most permissive abortion laws in the world."
Four justices are widely believed to favor reversing the 45-year-old ruling or severely restricting its reach. In replacing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who on Wednesday announced his retirement, Trump could supply the fifth vote for a majority.
Numerous states have laws on the books that would outlaw abortion the moment a Supreme Court ruling is handed down.
In 10 states, bans that existed before the Roe decision are still on the books and would take effect again should it be reversed, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion laws. A few of those are blue states, including Massachusetts, which would presumably scrap their bans. Several, however — including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia — are solidly conservative places where antiabortion sentiment is strong.
Four states — Louisiana, Mississippi and North and South Dakota — have laws designed to ban abortion if Roe is overturned. And seven — Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and North Dakota — have laws that express the intention to limit abortion as much as the Supreme Court allows.
Axios noted, however, that the majority of Americans disfavor overturning Roe v. Wade – a full 67 percent, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey – which undoubtedly would set the stage for fresh political turmoil over the issue.
If Trump stays true to his word and appoints a pro-life judge to succeed Justice Kennedy, the issue of abortion would be catapulted to the forefront of state political campaigns. Patrick Egan, a political scientist at New York University, told Halper, "The extent to which states prohibit or make it more difficult to access legal abortion could become the battleground in the politics of many states for decades to come."