This slightly hysterical article in Slate alleges that Roe v. Wade is no longer in practice "the law of the land" because of various pro-life pieces of legislation that have been (or even just might be) successful at the state level.
Well, would that it were so. But let's not get too excited too fast. After all, our pro-death opponents are not satisfied unless every woman everywhere has easy access to an abortion for whatever reason, and they'll howl that we're abrogating women's "constitutional rights" if we rein in a quodlibetal abortion license.
Several of the items Slate brings up, though examples of good legislation which will, God willing, save lives, are not direct challenges to Roe and its infamous companion, Doe v. Bolton. These include waiting periods and informed consent laws, some apparently even requiring women to be offered an opportunity to view an ultrasound of the unborn child. (Slate makes it sound like the woman must actually be shown the ultrasound, which appears to be incorrect. This summary by Guttmacher just describes offering the woman the opportunity to view an ultrasound.)
However, the prohibitions on abortion after fetal pain (which the statutes list as twenty weeks) are more plausibly challenges to Doe. This is because, at least if they are all like Idaho's, they apparently contain only a very narrow health exception which could not plausibly be applied to "mental health" or financial situation. Slate frets about the failure to file suit against such bills, but in August, a couple of months after the Slate article came out, such a suit was indeed filed, apparently focusing on the absence of the desired sweeping health exception. I don't have an update on the status of that suit; if a reader does, please post that in comments.
Rolling back the sweeping health exception in Doe and introducing meaningful protection for unborn children after twenty weeks would be a wonderful gain, if such laws are enforced. The laws do contain an "emergency medical condition" exception which I have no doubt will function as a health exception in a number of cases, but if the law is enforced, these cases will be limited in number. Dr. Tiller operated with impunity in Kansas (which, as I recall, allegedly limited late-term abortions to those where there was a genuine danger to a woman's physical health), but my perception is that he did this by getting another doctor to rubber-stamp frivolous health exception claims, for which he could have been prosecuted had there been the prosecutorial will to do so in his local venue. So these bills will help only if a) there is such prosecutorial will and b) they are not struck down for not containing a broader health exception.
It would be interesting to know how such bills actually affect would-be abortionists in the states, especially those would-be abortionists who want to be perceived as respectable. Do they take the bills at face value and not perform abortions after the stated number of weeks unless there is some serious health problem with the mother? Or do they shrug and decide that the Supreme Court will get them out of quod if they skirt the law and abort for psychological reasons, reasons of fetal anomaly, and the like? I'd be especially interested to know whether Down Syndrome children are still being aborted in Nebraska, Idaho, and other states that pass such laws.
I'm not going to do the "bitter purist" routine and dismiss all regulations within or even pushing the envelope of Doe and Roe as mere fiddling while Rome burns. These are real gains. Even waiting periods may well save some babies, and informed consent, if carried out rather than flouted, will save many more. (One does have to wonder: How would an abortionist be likely to "offer a woman the opportunity" to see an ultrasound of her unborn child? Would printing the statement, "You have a right to view the ultrasound that is performed on you" in small print as part of a sheaf of papers do it? How about muttering, "You don't want to see this, do you?" while performing the ultrasound?)
Roe must be meaningfully, fully overturned, or babies, especially early in pregnancy, will still be slaughtered in numbers and for any reason, and the states will not be able to stop this.
Until a state can actually arrest and prosecute an abortionist simply for aborting a child at twelve weeks, then yes, in practice, Roe remains "in force."
What will happen? I don't know, though I'm inclined to be somewhat pessimistic. I do know that the fight to get the chance to protect the unborn, even at the state level, will not be over until it's over.
P.S. Let's not forget defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal level. Defunding legislation is always meaningful legislation. Money talks. The next time someone tells you that, because the courts have spoken, the legislatures can do nothing and (usually this is the conclusion) we needn't bother our heads about whether a politician is pro-life, think about all the money PP gets every year.