After Dobbs, States Seek to Define Abortion Access Laws – Publications



July 14, 2022

The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization mandate states to define laws on access to abortion-related services. As expected, the two main sources of action following the ruling – beyond US President Joe Biden’s July 8 executive order on abortion access – have been state-level litigation challenging the abortion restrictions and executive actions in states that support abortion access.

State level litigation

State injunctions blocking enforcement in Louisiana and Florida were lifted, a new injunction against enforcement was issued in Idaho, and the Texas Supreme Court upheld part of a temporary injunction against the application of pre-deer criminal prohibition. Litigation continues in nearly every state where these bans are in place, and we expect the status of these laws to remain in flux for several months.

State-Level Executive Orders

Democratic governors of Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island have issued executive orders protecting abortion providers in their states and prohibiting state agencies from cooperating with investigations at the out of state on people seeking abortions or abortion services.

Presidential decree

In addition, the White House issued an order directing

  • the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase awareness and education about reproductive health services and identify potential actions to protect and expand access to abortion care, including medical abortion , and reproductive health services such as family planning and emergency contraception;
  • the United States Attorney General and White House Counsel to convene a meeting of private attorneys and encourage attorneys to represent and assist patients, providers, and third parties legally seeking reproductive health services;
  • the United States Attorney General and the Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security to consider measures to ensure the safety of patients, providers, and third parties and to protect the safety of clinics and pharmacies providing reproductive health services;
  • the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to consider actions to protect consumer privacy regarding reproductive health services; and
  • the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider actions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect sensitive information related to reproductive health services.

State legislation

Indiana plans to hold a special session on abortion legislation and anti-inflation measures on July 25, 2022. The Governor of South Dakota also announced plans to continue a special legislative session on restrictions abortion, but did not specify a summons date. The Governor of Virginia further stated that he would introduce and support a 15-week abortion ban in the next legislative session.

The Pennsylvania Legislature approved a number of changes to the state constitution on July 8, including language saying the state constitution does not grant the right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right related to abortion. The measure does not require the governor’s approval but would have to be voted on by the public and then reapproved in a subsequent session for ratification.

Additionally, Ohio Representative Gary Glick introduced a bill on July 11 that would require Ohio law to recognize the personality and constitutional rights of all persons from the moment of conception. The level of support for this effort is unclear, but the Ohio Legislature is in session year-round, so action could occur at any time.

We will continue to monitor developments in this area and provide updates as new information becomes available. Please feel free to contact us with specific questions or for more personalized advice regarding specific state bans.

Reproductive Rights: After–Dobbs Impact

Our Reproductive Rights Task Force closely monitors and analyzes the impact of state laws regulating access to abortion to advise clients on how best to respond. Visit our centralized portal, which brings together our insights and analysis of Dobbs and his subsequent influence on state laws across the United States.


If you have any questions or would like more information about the issues discussed in this overview, please contact one of the following Morgan Lewis attorneys:

Sharon Perley Masling
E. Pierce Blue
Sage Fattahian
Jonathan Zimmerman


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