Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Breaking News

Gas Prices Hit New Record High in U.S.

(The Center Square) – Gasoline prices hit a new high in the U.S. on Monday, with the average cost of a gallon of regular gas at $4.48.

That's an increase of 15 cents a gallon in the past week and 40 cents over this time last month. A year ago, gas prices on average were $3.04 a gallon, $1.44 cheaper.

The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is at $5.57 a gallon, also a record high. Diesel fuel is used by truckers who transport goods across the country, contributing to 40-year-high inflation that's sending the prices of groceries and other commodities significantly higher.

In California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $5.98, highest in the U.S.

President Joe Biden has attempted to blame the rising cost of gasoline on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but prices began elevating shortly after he took office, when he canceled new oil and gas leases on federal lands and placed new restrictions on the industry.

Just last week, Biden canceled three pending oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Republican Candidates Promise Tough On Crime Approach After Deer District Shootings

(The Center Square) – The Republicans running for governor in Wisconsin are promising more cops, more prisons, and say they'll fire prosecutors who don’t get tough on crime after a violent weekend in Milwaukee that saw more than two dozen people shot.

Milwaukee Police say Friday night’s shootings near the Deer District wounded 21 people. Another of those shootings saw 17 people shot. A string of shootings on Sunday saw another five people shot, including two people who died.

Monday saw the Republicans running for governor promising to get tougher on crime if elected.

“The simple points are to put 1,000 more cops on the street. Bail and sentencing reform to stop these bad D.A.’s and these bad judges. Fire [Milwaukee County] District Attorney John Chisholm on day one. And use the Wisconsin State Patrol to surge where violent crime is surging,” frontrunner Rebecca Kleefisch told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Monday morning.

Kleefisch said under Democratic leadership the Deer District has become the “fear district.”

Republican Tim Michels is also promising to fire Milwaukee County’s district attorney. But he is also promising to fire other prosecutors across the state who don’t get tougher on crime.

“I will review all the D.A.s, and the ones who have an awful pattern of catch-and-release, dropping charges quickly, and letting guys out on the street, I will remove them from office,” Michels told Weber.

Michels also said he wants to build more prisons in the state, starting with a replacement for the maximum security prison in Green Bay.

Candidate Kevin Nicholson took to Twitter on Sunday to blast Chisholm and the leadership in Milwaukee.

“Twenty one shot on Friday; 3 murdered last night. Out of control car thefts. Record-breaking homicides,” Nicholson Tweeted. “We’re sick of it. Time to turn the page. We need new leaders who are serious about getting this back on track.”

Crime and public safety have been issues in the race for governor since day one. Republicans have blamed Gov. Tony Evers for the spike in violent crime during his time in office, including record years for both shootings and homicides in Milwaukee for the past two years.

The governor on Saturday offered thoughts and prayers, but didn’t offer any plans after Milwaukee’s violent weekend.

“Kathy and I are heartbroken by last night’s horrific acts of gun violence in Milwaukee. We are thinking of all the people who were injured and are praying for their full recovery, and we are thinking of the many people affected by this senseless tragedy,” the governor Tweeted.

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U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack: Illegal Immigrants Getting Baby Formula While Americans Left With Empty Shelves

(The Center Square) – U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack and other Republican lawmakers are calling on the FDA and the Biden administration to take immediate action to solve a months-long baby formula shortage that's left parents scrambling to find healthy food for their infant children.

Cammack, R-Florida, called on Americans to “demand that the administration take action putting the baby formula back on the shelves for American kids,” prioritizing them over illegal immigrants.

Cammack posted photos of stocked shelves of baby formula at a Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Texas alongside a photo of empty shelves in an American store. Describing them, she said, “The first photo is from this morning at the Ursula Processing Center at the U.S. border. Shelves and pallets packed with baby formula. The second is from a shelf right here at home. Formula is scarce."

The Florida congresswoman was referring to the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, which is the largest detention facility at the southern border where illegal immigrants are held during processing. By law, federal agents are required to provide food and water to illegal immigrants held in detention facilities. CBP officers are also required to determine admissibility of baby formula for personal and commercial use that is brought into the country.

“We literally are struggling to find baby formula around the country,” Cammack said during a Facebook Live stream. “Moms are struggling, going from store to store to store and then the stores are actually capping the amount of baby formula that they will sell them but, and this got sent to me by a Border Patrol agent this morning, and said, ‘This is disgusting. You will not believe this. They’re receiving pallets, and more pallets of baby formula at the border.'”

She added, “He has been a border patrol agent for 30 years and he has never seen anything quite like this. He is a grandfather and he is saying that his own children can’t get baby formula.”

In response, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a joint statement with National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd saying, "President Biden has turned a blind eye to parents across America who are facing the nightmare of a nationwide baby formula shortage.

“While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border.

As of April 24, 40% of the top-selling baby formula products were out of stock nationwide, according to an analysis by Datasembly, which tracked baby formula stock at more than 11,000 stores, CBS News reported.

“This is yet another one in a long line of reckless, out-of-touch priorities from the Biden Administration when it comes to securing our border and protecting Americans," the joint statement from Abbott and Judd said. "Our children deserve a president who puts their needs and survival first – not one who gives critical supplies to illegal immigrants before the very people he took an oath to serve."

On Tuesday, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf requesting answers on the shortage. Stefanik has been contacting the FDA about the shortage since February.

Also on Tuesday, Califf issued a statement providing an update on the FDA’s failure to increase the availability of infant and specialty formula products. In February, it warned consumers not to use certain products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan, facility, which had issued a voluntary recall of certain products. Since then, increasing shortages, coupled with supply chain and other issues, have led to what is now a crisis for many.

“We recognize that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula and critical medical foods they are accustomed to using and are frustrated by their inability to do so. We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it,” Califf said. “Ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA. Our teams have been working tirelessly to address and alleviate supply issues and will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products.”

Stefanik led a coalition on Thursday calling on the FDA and the Biden administration to take immediate action.

“Joe Biden simply has no plan. In fact, when Joe Biden's White House was asked about the shortage, they laughed. Shameful," Stefanik said. "Make no mistake, there is nothing laughable or funny about this crisis."

The administration “should have had a plan for this shortage months ago," she added. "Instead, bare shelves Biden has continued to pass the buck. … This is not a Third World country. This should never happen in the United States of America. We're unified in demanding action to address this crisis."

More than 100 House Republicans wrote a letter to Biden Wednesday demanding that he address the shortage “with the appropriate urgency it deserves.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary, addressed the issue during a press briefing on Wednesday. She told reporters, "Ensuring that infant formula is safe and available for families across the country is a top priority to the White House and this administration. This is an urgent issue that the FDA, as you all know, and the White House is working 24/7 to address."

Tony Evers Doesn’t Call, Sends Victim’s Family Automated Message in Killer’s Parole Case

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Return of ‘Normal’ Kentucky Derby Environs Yields Hefty Payday in Louisville

(The Center Square) – Thousands of racing fans flocked to Louisville over the weekend to celebrate the Kentucky Derby, and according to information from the city’s tourism bureau, Rich Strike wasn’t the only winner.

This year’s race marked the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started that Churchill Downs was allowed to hold the race without restrictions on attendance. Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters at the track Saturday there was “a special buzz” surrounding the Derby this year.

Churchill Downs officials announced 147,294 fans attended the Derby, and 100,188 fans attended Friday’s card highlighted by the Kentucky Oaks. That was about 9,000 fewer than the attendance for the 2019 Oaks and Derby race days, the last held under normal conditions.

The weather, which included storms Friday and cool, overcast skies Saturday, dampened crowds slightly. However, the event still attracted a long list of celebrities and other high-profile guests. Those in attendance Saturday included former President Donald Trump, whose super PAC held a $75,000-per-person event during the Derby, and current Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Despite attendance slightly lower than the last comparable year, Churchill Downs announced record wagering. The Derby itself generated a handle of $179 million, which was 8% better than the previous record set three years ago. Betting for the 14-race card on Saturday also set a record, with the $273.8 million topping the $250.9 million wagered in 2019.

The betting handle includes money bet at other tracks across the country and online through licensed wagering platforms, such as TwinSpires and TVG.

But the millions wagered at the track and spent on tickets weren’t the only dollars spent in the city and surrounding area. With thousands flocking to Louisville, the bars, restaurants, hotels and other venues saw significant traffic.

Rosanne Mastin, a spokeswoman for Louisville Tourism, told The Center Square that the estimated economic impact for the weekend was $366.8 million. That figure would easily exceed $400 million when considering other factors. That includes locals who avoid the track and celebrate at home with family, friends and other guests.

AGs Sue Biden Administration Over Claims It Colluded With Social Media Giants to Censor Speech

(The Center Square) – As states push back against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ plan to combat “disinformation,” two attorneys general sued him, President Joe Biden, and other top officials over claims they colluded with social media companies to censor speech.

The attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana Monroe Division. They sued Biden, former press secretary Jen Psaki, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mayorkas, the new director of DHS’ “Disinformation Governance Board” Nina Jankowicz, and others.

The attorneys general say Biden and his officials colluded with big tech companies, including Meta, Twitter, and Youtube, to censor truthful information about a range of issues – including the coronavirus, election integrity and Hunter Biden’s laptop – under the guise of combating “misinformation.”

Biden and his officials “coerced, threatened, and pressured social-media platforms to censor disfavored speakers and viewpoints by using threats of adverse government action,” and are “now directly colluding with social-media platforms to censor disfavored speakers and viewpoints,” the AGs argue. Doing so violates the First Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, and exceeds statutory authority, the AGs argue. DHS creating a disinformation board also violates federal statutes, the complaint, filed Thursday, alleges.

“In direct contravention to the First Amendment and freedom of speech, the Biden Administration has been engaged in a pernicious campaign to both pressure social media giants to censor and suppress speech and work directly with those platforms to achieve that censorship in a misguided and Orwellian campaign against ‘misinformation,’” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said.

“Big Tech has become an extension of Biden’s Big Government, and neither are protecting the freedoms of Americans; rather, they are suppressing truth and demonizing those who think differently,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said. “Ripped from the playbook of Stalin and his ilk, Biden has been colluding with Big Tech to censor free speech and propagandize the masses. We are fighting back to ensure the rule of law and prevent the government from unconstitutional banning, chilling, and stifling of speech.”

They point to examples of then presidential candidate Biden seeking to have social media companies censor speech. In a Jan. 17, 2020, interview with the New York Times editorial board, Biden said Section 230 should be revoked because social-media companies weren’t doing enough to censor information. He also “suggested that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should be subject to civil liability and even criminal prosecution for not censoring enough political speech,” the brief alleges.

It also points to examples of Psaki and Murthy stating in press briefings that Facebook and social media platforms should be doing more to combat health “misinformation.” Schmitt has been posting clips of their remarks on Twitter.

“We’re saying we expect more from our technology companies," Murthy said. …. We’re asking them to monitor misinformation more closely. We’re asking them to consistently take action against misinformation super-spreaders on their platforms,” the complaint points out.

Psaki also told reporters, “‘[W]e are in regular touch with these social media platforms, and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff, but also members of our COVID-19 team, given, as Dr. Murthy conveyed, this is a big issue of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.’ She added, ‘We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.’”

Last February, in the wake of Spotify’s move to add advisory warnings to Joe Rogan’s podcast, Psaki said, “… we want every platform to continue doing more to call out … mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information.”

The lawsuit also points to Facebook censoring posts after Fauci, “coordinating with others, orchestrated a campaign to discredit the lab-leak hypothesis in early 2020,” the complaint states. “At the same time as he was orchestrating a campaign to falsely discredit the lab-leak theory, Dr. Fauci was exchanging emails with Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, regarding the control and dissemination of COVID-19 information.”

Facebook has been partnering “with government experts, health authorities and researchers to take ‘aggressive action against misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines to protect public health,’” according to statements made by Facebook cited in the complaint.

The AGs point to Twitter’s policy of labeling and removing posts by anyone claiming face masks don’t prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and to Youtube censoring U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after they questioned mask efficacy.

The lawsuit was filed after they joined 18 other AGs in demanding that Mayorkas immediately disband DHS’s disinformation board. Schmitt also expressed alarm about comments made by its new director.

She’s “called for more aggressive censorship of election-related speech by social-media platforms, and has implied that social-media censorship of election-related speech should never relent or be reduced,” he said.

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DHS Continues to Defend ‘Disinformation Bureau,’ DeSantis, Kennedy Fight Back

(The Center Square) – Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas continues to be on the defensive after announcing the creation of a new “misinformation and disinformation governance board” he first described at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday said Florida flat out rejected the bureau, and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, grilled Mayorkas about it in a Senate Appropriations hearing.

But before their pushback, Mayorkas received widespread criticism from left- and right-leaning individuals and groups. On Sunday, he went on talk shows, and issued a fact sheet about the board on Monday justifying its purpose.

DeSantis and Kennedy weren’t persuaded.

Speaking at a news conference in Clearwater about environmental projects, DeSantis said, “As if they don’t have enough issues to deal with, they now have an idea, and I honestly thought this was a belated April Fool’s joke, but they are actually going to create in the Department of Homeland Security a Bureau of Disinformation. It’s basically a Ministry of Truth,” he said, referring to the bureau created by Big Brother to spy on and control a fictional citizenry in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984.”

Referring to the Biden administration, he said, “they want to be able to put out false narratives without people being able to speak out and fight back. They want to be able to say things like ‘Russia collusion’ and perpetuate hoaxes and have people like us be silenced. They want people to be able to advocate for COVID lockdowns … for school closures, things that are not supported by the evidence. But then when you speak out they want to stifle dissent.”

“We reject this bureau in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said to applause and cheers.

Initially, Mayorkas said the bureau was established to combat threats to election security and homeland security.

“We are disseminated information to the secretaries of state,” he testified. “We are counseling them and providing resources to ensure better physical security. We are addressing all aspects of election security. Given of course, the midterm elections that are upon us and the fundamental integrity of our democratic process that is at stake.”

He told Fox News Sunday’s Bret Baier in response to criticism, “I really need to clarify. This is a working group that takes best practices to make sure that in addressing disinformation that presents a threat to the homeland that our work does not infringe on free speech.

“It’s not about speech, it’s about the connectivity to violence,” Mayorkas pivoted, suggesting the board would be focusing on anti-Semitic violence.

However, in a fact sheet published on Monday, DHS stated the board’s purpose was “on disinformation that threatens the security of the American people, including disinformation spread by foreign states such as Russia, China, and Iran, or other adversaries such as transnational criminal organizations and human smuggling organizations. Such malicious actors often spread disinformation to exploit vulnerable individuals and the American public, including during national emergencies.”

The fact sheet nowhere mentions election integrity despite the fact that Mayorkas testified it was the board’s primary focus last week.

Kennedy asked Mayorkas if the board would investigate former President Bill Clinton when he testified under oath, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” referring to White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Later, Clinton admitted he’d had an affair with Lewinsky. In 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Clinton for lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice.

Mayorkas replied to Kennedy, "Senator, again, let me be clear that the department's responsibility is to address this information that threatens the security of the homeland."

Kennedy also asked Mayorkas if the board would investigate the claim former President Barack Obama made about the Affordable Healthcare Act, which turned out not to be true. Obama claimed, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” However, after the ACA was implemented, millions of people lost their health insurance coverage, their doctors, health insurance companies were forced to close, and healthcare coverage became less affordable and less accessible.

Mayorkas said the board wouldn’t have operational authority or capability. "Our mission is to protect the security of the homeland, and we address disinformation when it threatens the security of the homeland,” he said.


Large Police Associations Call on Voters to ‘Unite Behind Eric Toney,’ Saying AG Josh Kaul Has Failed to Combat Crime

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Josh Kaul Says Wisconsin Will Not Enforce Abortion Laws If Roe v. Wade Overturned

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s attorney general says he wouldn’t enforce Wisconsin’s abortion laws if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Attorney General Josh Kaul on Tuesday said he would not use his office to prosecute doctors if abortion is made illegal in the state.

“As long as I am AG, the [state’s Department of Justice] will not be using its resources to investigate or prosecute alleged violations of the 170-plus-year-old abortion ban on the books," Kaul said in an interview.

Wisconsin is one of several states that would automatically outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe.

Kaul said it would be up to local prosecutors to make any decisions about cases.

"I believe that our investigative and prosecutorial resources in Wisconsin should investigate and prosecute things like violent crime and drug trafficking and not be diverted from those investigative and prosecutorial needs to be used to go after people for abortions,” Kaul added.

The Republicans who are running against Kaul this year are, unsurprisingly, taking the opposite view.

Fond du Lac County D.A. and candidate Eric Toney said on Twitter that the top law enforcer in Wisconsin must enforce the state’s laws.

“This is and always should have been a state issue,” Toney said on Twitter. “I am pro-life and I will enforce and defend the laws as passed by the legislature and signed into law."

Republican Candidate Adam Jarchow blasted Kaul for openly stating that he will ignore a state law simply because he doesn’t like the law.

"Josh Kaul’s unwillingness to enforce the laws of Wisconsin should disqualify him from the job of Attorney General," said in a statement. "As a pro-life father of two, I will always support the right to life."

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said abortion prosecutions are unlikely, because they would stop providing abortions in the state if Roe is overturned.

Wisconsin’s governor, on Monday, said Congress needs to step in to make sure there won’t be any state cases over abortion.

Gov. Tony Evers and 16 other governors signed a letter asking Congress pass new laws to protect abortions post-Roe.

“Reproductive healthcare decisions are deeply personal and should be made by patients in consultation with their healthcare providers, not by politicians,” the governors wrote. “Overturning Roe will turn back the clock on reproductive health, and Congress must immediately take action to ensure that our nation does not go backward and that the rights of all Americans to access reproductive healthcare and abortion continue to be protected.”

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President Biden Says Women Have a Fundamental Right to an Abortion

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden on Tuesday called a woman's right to abortion "fundamental" after a draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion leaked to Politico indicates a majority of justices will rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"I believe that a woman's right to choose is fundamental," Biden said in a statement. "Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned."

The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right.

But Politico reported that at least five Supreme Court justices will rule to overturn that decision based on the leaked draft document.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett signed on to the opinion, according to Politico. All were nominated by Republican presidents.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," the justices wrote in a draft deciding Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a lawsuit initiated in Mississippi, according to Politico. "The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The decision was “egregiously wrong from the start” and must be overturned in its entirety, the justices wrote in the leaked draft.

If the draft becomes the formal opinion of the court, abortion would be decided by states and not embedded as constitutional federal law, as was the case before the Roe v. Wade decision.

Many conservative states in recent years have placed tighter restrictions on abortion through so-called heartbeat bills, banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the womb, often around six weeks of pregnancy.

After the report, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a progressive from Vermont, called for Congress to pass a law preserving women's rights to an abortion, including ending the Senate filibuster if necessary.

"Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Biden also has said he would like Congress to codify Roe v. Wade.

While "we do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court," Biden said his administration fully supports a woman's right to make the decision whether to have an abortion.

"My administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on 'a long line of precedent recognizing 'the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty ... against government interference with intensely personal decisions,'" Biden said.

Analysis: If Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade Abortion Would Be Severely Limited in 23 States

(The Center Square) – Abortion would be banned or severely limited in 23 states if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute indicates.

“Changes to the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 raise the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be severely undermined – or even overturned – essentially leaving the legality of abortion to individual states,” the Guttmacher Institute states in an analysis of state abortion laws. “A reversal of Roe could establish a legal path for states’ pre-1973 abortion bans, as well as currently unenforced post-1973 bans, to take effect.”

If a reported Supreme Court draft ruling on a Mississippi case leaked by Politico is true, the court would reportedly overturn two landmark abortion cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, leaving the legality of abortion up to the states.

The draft ruling, if true, relates to Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. In it, Justice Samuel Alito reportedly argues, “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

In 1973, the Supreme Court struck down Texas’s ban on abortion, ruling abortion was a “fundamental right.” In 1991, it granted review of a challenge to several Pennsylvania abortion restrictions in Casey, which included a question on the court overturning or reaffirming Roe. The majority reaffirmed Roe.

Since Casey, legislatures in mostly red states began passing incrementally restrictive abortion laws; legislatures in blue states began passing incrementally extensive abortion on demand laws.

As a result, if Roe were overturned, abortion would be banned or severely limited in 23 states and legally protected in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

Prior to Roe, 10 states banned abortion: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Some of these laws were enjoined by a court order and aren’t in effect. Texas’ ban, prompting Roe, was permanently enjoined. But courts would likely order the enjoined laws back into effect if Roe were overturned.

After Roe, Texas and 12 other states enacted “trigger laws” intended to take effect once Roe is overturned. They include Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

The trigger laws ban all or nearly all abortions once Roe is overturned; some include exceptions. Those laws “enacted after Roe are designed to be ‘triggered’ and take effect automatically or by swift state action if Roe is overturned,” Guttmacher explains.

Citizens and legislatures in four states also passed constitutional amendments explicitly stating that abortion is not a right and public funds can’t be used for abortions: Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Texas also passed the Heartbeat Act prohibiting abortions from being performed once a heartbeat of the preborn baby is detected. The case was challenged and ultimately defeated after the Supreme Court rejected requests to halt it and the Fifth Circuit effectively ended all challenges last month.

By contrast, 16 states legalized abortion on demand: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Most of their laws “prohibit the state from interfering with the right to obtain an abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person,” Guttmacher states.

Four states and the District of Columbia legalized abortion throughout an entire pregnancy: Colorado, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont.

In a 2019 report, the Center for Reproductive Rights estimated that if Roe were overturned, 34 states and five territories wouldn’t have abortion protections. The report was conducted before newer laws were enacted, like New Jersey’s for example, which recently codified abortion rights as state law.

If Roe were overturned, it argues, states would be “divided into abortion deserts where it would be illegal to access care, and abortion havens, where care would continue to be available. Millions of people living in abortion deserts, mainly in the South and Midwest, would be forced to travel to receive legal care, which would result in many more people being unable to access abortion for a variety of financial and logistical reasons.”

An official opinion on Dobbs is expected to be released in June or July. If Roe were to be overturned, state trigger laws and other court actions would likely go into effect this summer.

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