Pro-choice. Pro-life. Abortion rights. Right to life. The ability for women to obtain an abortion in the United States, legal or not, has been debated long before the Roe V Wade decision came down from the Supreme Court in 1973. After that ruling, the issue, the discourse, and the rhetoric from both sides of the issue has only intensified.

In the last weeks of April, an uncharacteristic leak came from an unidentified source suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court was getting ready to "overturn the constitutional right to abortion". That ruling, if it were to occur, is largely expected to happen this summer.

Since that time, much has been said, questioned, and postulated about what that overturn would mean for the country; at the very least, it's left many - especially women who find themselves on the abortion rights side of the issue - wondering what an overturn of Roe V Wade would mean for them.

First, a little clarification. If the U.S. Supreme Court does end up overturning Roe V Wade this summer - or at some other point - the ruling doesn't automatically outlaw abortion as a choice for citizens of the United States. The 1973 ruling - 410 U.S. 113 by the Supreme Court - states that "the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman's liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction". While it's in place, the Roe V Wade decision makes a ban on or prevention of allowing a woman to obtain an abortion illegal.

Protests Continue In Wake Of Leaked Supreme Court Draft Decision To Overturn Roe v. Wade
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So let's hypothetically say that the Roe V Wade ruling is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.  What happens then?

That's when the issue, like many elements of our daily life, would be returned back to the governing authority of each individual state. Said differently, an overturning of Roe V Wade wouldn't automatically make the act of obtaining an abortion illegal in the United States; it would depend upon what state you're in as to whether or not the act would exist outside of the law.

It all comes down to the difference between Federal law and State law.  Here's a primer:

  • Federal law:  A law that's created at the national level.  These laws apply to the nation - including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and applicable U.S. territories.  The Constitution forms the basis for federal law.
  • State law:  These laws are created at the state level, applying to all residents and visitors of each state.  They also apply to businesses, corporations, and organizations based in or operating in that state.

It's worth noting that "when a state law is in direct conflict with federal law, the federal law prevails.  A state law can afford more rights to its residents than federal law, but is not meant to reduce or restrict the rights of a U.S. citizen". There is also something called the Preemption Doctrine - which basically states that "any federal law can trump any conflicting state law".

So back to our question about what would occur if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe V Wade. We've established that a reversal of that 1973 decision would kick the issue back to the state level.  Essentially, to know what potential affects an overturn would have on someone hypothetically, you'd need to look at the state that the person is in.

Leaked Report Indicates Supreme Court Set To Overturn Roe v. Wade
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In Minnesota, abortions would remain legal in the state following a reversal on Roe V Wade. Part of that is central to a 1995 ruling by the Minnesota Supreme Court. That ruling, in Doe V Gomez , it is stated that "abortion was a right protected in the state construction". As such, the right to obtain an abortion in the state would remain legal.

Additionally, Minnesota differs from some of its neighboring states. Some of those states, like North Dakota and South Dakota,  have "so-called 'Trigger Bans' that would take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Road V Wade". That 'Trigger Ban' would "effectively ban abortions almost immediately after a decision from the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade".

There are specific details and legal guidelines on abortion in Minnesota, though. At length, the state statute outlines specific requirements concerning Informed Consent. Those requirements mandate certain elements to occur before an abortion procedure can take place.

Of course, like anything in life, things could always change.  Laws are made and changed by elected officials.  As things sit right now, abortions would remain legal in Minnesota even with a federal overturn on Roe V Wade.

LOOK: What major laws were passed the year you were born?

Data for this list was acquired from trusted online sources and news outlets. Read on to discover what major law was passed the year you were born and learn its name, the vote count (where relevant), and its impact and significance.

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