Where abortion stands in each US territory
With the Supreme Court of the United States finally announcing its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the legality of abortion in the United States is now determined by each state and territory.
Here is where each unincorporated territory of the United States stands in terms of abortion.
American Samoa prohibits abortion with limited exceptions now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, as both a matter of law and practicality. The territory has prohibited abortions with very few exceptions in its criminal code; In 2014, the local government’s family planning director stated in a letter that “termination of pregnancy is illegal in American Samoa.” Technically, abortion was allowed under Roe v. Wade as the provision of abortion care is given to physicians. However, because the territory currently has no abortion providers, the islands lack the facilities required to conduct abortions.
Under Roe v. Wade, abortion was legal in Guam. However, similar to the way the law in American Samoa locally prohibited the practice, with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe, abortion is likely to be banned in the territory. Currently, the territory “prohibits abortion after 13 weeks of pregnancy in almost all situations.”
Guam also lacks the correct facilities to perform abortions. As of 2021, it has been three years since a doctor licensed to provide abortion service was on the island as the last one retired in 2018.
Northern Mariana Islands
In the Northern Mariana Islands, abortion is now illegal by both law and judicial ruling.
Abortion in the Commonwealth became illegal in 1986 when the Northern Marianas Constitution in Article 12 reaffirmed that “the abortion of the unborn child during the mother’s pregnancy is prohibited by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, except as provided by law.” With Roe’s overturning, the question is now settled.
Abortion in Puerto Rico is legal and has been so since 1937, in fact serving as a haven for some Americans who could not legally get an abortion on the mainland. The first restrictions were enacted in 2019. This situation could change soon as the Puerto Rico Senate has recently approved PS 693, which would restrict abortions to 22 weeks after fertilization.
US Virgin Islands
In the United States Virgins Islands, criminal laws prohibit abortion beyond the twenty-four weeks line and state that any abortion after twelve weeks is performed in a hospital. “The territory restricts the provision of abortion care to licensed physicians.”