Abortion bans pending if Roe v. Wade is overturned could mean lengthy prison sentences for people who have an abortion, the physicians who perform them and those who help people access the procedure. Potential penalties vary widely by state, and can include hefty fines or the suspension of a medical license, Politico reports. Even as Republican leaders who have worked for decades to outlaw abortion dismiss fears of prosecutions, state lawmakers have already enacted mandatory minimum sentences that would go into effect if Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion is issued. “Our position should be based in compassion and reason,” read a memo drafted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors and women in jail. Mothers should be held harmless under the law.”
In Texas, anyone who performs, induces or attempts an abortion where “an unborn child dies as a result of the offense” is guilty of a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. In Alabama, anyone who performs an abortion, provides abortion pills or “aids, abets or prescribes for the same,” faces up to 12 months in jail or hard labor and a fine of up to $1,000. In South Carolina, a person who ends their pregnancy either with a pill or by other means faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 under state law. In Louisiana, a bill that would classify abortions as homicide and extend legal personhood to fertilized eggs was voted out of committee on Wednesday. Activists, medical groups and legal experts warn that such laws and punishments may extend beyond people who abort their pregnancies to charges against people who experience miscarriages and stillbirths, use drugs during pregnancy, use in-vitro fertilization, use emergency contraception or who have an intrauterine device implanted.