Trigger law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A trigger law is a law that is unenforceable but may achieve enforceability if a key change in circumstances occurs.[citation needed]

United States[edit]


States with trigger laws or pre-Roe v. Wade bans on abortion that made abortion illegal in the state following the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade
  Trigger laws in place
  Trigger laws and pre-Roe laws in place
  Pre-Roe laws in place

In the United States, thirteen states, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma,[1] South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas,[2] Utah, and Wyoming,[3] enacted trigger laws that would automatically ban abortion in the first and second trimesters if the landmark case Roe v. Wade were overturned.[4][5][6] As Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022,[7] some of these laws are in effect, and presumably enforceable, immediately.[8] Other states' trigger laws took effect 30 days after the overturn date, and others take effect upon certification by either the governor or attorney general.[8] Illinois formerly had a trigger law (enacted in 1975) but repealed it in 2017.[9][10][11]

Eight states, among them Alabama, Arizona, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as the already mentioned Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas, still have their pre-Roe v. Wade abortion bans on the law books. In North Carolina, a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks (excepting medical emergencies) was passed in 1973 but unenforceable due to Roe v. Wade and a court ruling that it was unconstitutional[12][13] until it was reinstated by U.S. District Judge William Osteen Jr. in August 2022.[14] According to a 2019 Contraception Journal study, the reversal of Roe v. Wade and implementation of trigger laws (as well as other states considered highly likely to ban abortion), "In the year following a reversal, increases in travel distance are estimated to prevent 93,546 to 143,561 women from accessing abortion".[15]


The Affordable Care Act allowed states to opt in to a program of health care expansion, which allowed more residents to qualify for Medicaid. The cost of this expansion was primarily borne by the federal government, but the percent paid by the federal government was scheduled to decrease each year, reaching 95% by 2017 and below 90% by 2021; the remainder would be assumed by the state. As of 2017, eight states had laws that would trigger an end to participation in Medicaid expansion, if federal funding fell below a particular level.[16][17][18][needs update] Unlike abortion trigger laws prior to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, these are not unconstitutional at the moment and are only inactive because they rely on certain conditions to activate.

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In the 2015 Supreme Court decision Obergefell v. Hodges, all state constitutional and statutory bans of same-sex marriage were made null and void. However, if the precedent was overturned it would restore the bans in thirty-five states.[19] In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should reconsider the Obergefell ruling.[20] Nevada became the first state to repeal its amendment banning same-sex marriage and recognize it in the Nevada state constitution in 2020.[21]

Gun control[edit]

In July 2023, the Indianapolis City-County Council passed an assault weapons ban trigger law, which can only go into effect once the Indiana gun control state preemption law is repealed or invalidated.

Rent Control[edit]

Richmond, California has strict ordinances related to Rent Control that will take effect in the event that the statewide Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act is repealed.[22]


  1. ^ "Oklahoma governor signs bill to ban abortion if SCOTUS rules". Associated Press. 28 April 2021. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  2. ^ Najmabadi, Shannon (16 June 2021). "Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill that would outlaw abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned". The Texas Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 September 2021. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  3. ^ Exchange, Wyoming Tribune Eagle via Wyoming News (16 March 2022). "Gov. Gordon signs 'trigger ban' abortion bill". Cody Enterprise. Archived from the original on 2022-03-16. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  4. ^ "What if Roe Fell?". Center for Reproductive Rights. February 21, 2019. Archived from the original on May 9, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "Abortion Policy in the Absence of Roe". Guttmacher Institute. 2022-05-01. Archived from the original on 2022-05-06. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  6. ^ Smith, Kate (April 22, 2019). "Abortion would automatically be illegal in these states if Roe v. Wade is overturned". CBS News. Archived from the original on 2019-05-14. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  7. ^ "Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade; states can ban abortion". AP NEWS. 2022-06-24. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  8. ^ a b "Abortion will soon be banned in 13 states. Here's which could be next". Washington Post. 2022-06-24. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  9. ^ Sarah Mansur, Bill removes trigger from abortion law, but impact unclear Archived 2018-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (May 1, 2017).
  10. ^ John Dempsey, Rauner signing of abortion bill angers conservatives Archived 2018-07-02 at the Wayback Machine, WLS-AM (September 29, 2017).
  11. ^ Note, Recent Legislation: Illinois Repeals Anti-Abortion Trigger Law, 131 Harv. L. Rev. 1836 (2018).
  12. ^ Thompson, Elizabeth; Hoban, Rose (2022-05-05). "In the wake of Supreme Court leak, NC advocates ponder the future of abortion in the state". North Carolina Health News. Archived from the original on 2022-05-05. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  13. ^ Donnelly, Claire (2022-05-04). "Here's how abortion laws in North and South Carolina could change if Roe is overturned". WUNC North Carolina Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  14. ^ Crumpler, Rachel (2022-08-19). "Abortion access diminishes in NC after federal judge reinstates 20-week ban". North Carolina Health News. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  15. ^ Myers, Caitlin; Jones, Rachel; Upadhyay, Ushma (July 31, 2019). "Predicted changes in abortion access and incidence in a post-Roe world". Contraception. 100 (5): 367–373. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2019.07.139. ISSN 0010-7824. PMID 31376381.
  16. ^ Schencker, Lisa (22 June 2017). "Medicaid expansion could end early in Illinois under Senate Obamacare replacement bill". Archived from the original on 2021-09-03. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  17. ^ says, Mike. "NM Group Slams Obamacare Replacement Bill Ahead of Senate Debate - El Paso Herald Post". Archived from the original on 2021-09-03. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  18. ^ Allen, Kristin (2020-11-11). "A Short-Term Path to Avoid ACA Uncertainty as the Pandemic Continues". Health Management Associates. Archived from the original on 2021-09-03. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  19. ^ "Without Obergefell, Most States Would Have Same-Sex Marriage Bans". The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  20. ^ Green, Mary. "Roe overturn sparks fears same-sex marriage protection could be repealed too". WRDW. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  21. ^ "Nevada becomes first state to recognize gay marriage in state constitution". NBC News. Retrieved 24 August 2022.