Some states, including California, Michigan, Kansas and South Carolina, have responded to the Dobbs decision by protecting legal access to abortion. Meanwhile, more than a dozen other states, including Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, have moved to enact sweeping abortion bans.
In Texas, for instance, abortion is a felony punishable by up to life in prison. The state's law explicitly prohibits criminally prosecuting people seeking abortions. Instead, it focuses on abortion providers, as well as people who aid or abet them — including those who help fund abortions.
Then there are states where abortion is legal, but hasn't been explicitly protected as a right in a state's constitution or by court decisions. Ziegler points to Florida, which, because it has more liberal abortion laws than its neighboring states, is considered a "receiving state," for people seeking abortion. "Florida, at the moment, has a 15-week ban, but nothing more than that," she says. "We expect to see some of those states [like Florida] become battlegrounds in the years ahead."
While Ziegler acknowledges that no one knows what the future of abortion rights in the U.S. will look like, one thing is certain: This is a story that's larger than one court decision.
"The story of our abortion politics has always been one about more than the Supreme Court telling us what to do," she says. "It's been grassroots movements. It's been ordinary voters, it's been legislatures, it's been state courts. And that's going to continue to be true. So I think we're at the very beginning of something very confusing, but also something that is far, far from over."
On how confusion about abortion law can stop people from exercising their right to an abortion
A lot of people, if they're not sure what is and is not OK, may make the decision to not come close to crossing the line. They may be scared away from exercising a right they do, in fact, have. But I think we're at a moment of really almost unprecedented uncertainty in the United States when it comes to abortion. That's true of the laws. It's true of the way abortion care is delivered. It's true, frankly, of the strategies that are being pursued by both movements. I think the kind of old hierarchies in the movements on both sides were shaken up by the Dobbs decision and the political developments of the past couple of years.
On Texas prosecutors targeting abortion funds
Abortion funds kind of emerged because it was very difficult for low-income people to pay for abortions because of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal Medicaid monies being used for reimbursement for abortions. So these abortion funds have been an important part of the funding reality for decades. And these demand letters that were sent to the abortion funds in Texas essentially suggested that they had been aiding and abetting a criminal act and demanded, among other things, details about their patients' information.