Today, South Carolina governor Henry McMaster signed Senate Bill 1 into law. S. 1 bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, which is just two weeks after a missed period and before most people know they are pregnant.
Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic — represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm Burnette Shutt & McDaniel — immediately filed a federal lawsuit in order to block the law and keep it from ever going into effect.
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What happens next?
We have asked the court to take immediate action and temporarily block this law in order to keep abortion legal in South Carolina while the case makes its way through the courts. A judge could release a decision on that as soon as tomorrow.
While we wait for an update from the court, we remain committed to our mission. Planned Parenthood has never backed down from a fight before, and this dangerous abortion ban is no exception. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is committed to keeping health center doors open for patients and ensuring abortion is safe, legal, and accessible in South Carolina.
Remind me: What is this law all about?
S. 1 would ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many people even know they’re pregnant. By banning abortion that early in pregnancy, this bill is effectively a total abortion ban for many patients.
To add insult to injury, survivors of sexual assault generally will not be able to obtain an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy unless their provider reports their name to law enforcement, potentially over the patient’s objection. Forcing health care providers to report survivor names to law enforcement, against their will, is an egregious violation of a survivor’s rights. If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will pose a serious threat to South Carolinians’ health and livelihood.
Once a patient decides to have an abortion, many face logistical obstacles like finding a provider, securing childcare and transportation, and saving funds to cover all of the costs — all of which create delays, and in some cases, stop people from getting the care they need. With a ban so early in pregnancy, the vast majority of people may find that it’s too late for them to get an abortion — which is exactly the goal of the politicians trying to pass these bills.
At the end of the day, abortion bans harm those that already have the least access to quality health care, and people with low incomes, people of color, and people who live in rural parts of the state will carry the heaviest burdens.
Also good to know: What’s happening right now in South Carolina is part of a larger pattern plaguing the country — politicians putting politics over people. This is just the latest in a concerning trend of state politicians passing extreme legislation aimed at eliminating abortion access and overturning the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade. In less than two months, state politicians have introduced medically unnecessary restrictions and all-out abortion bans at a staggering pace: more than 200 bills and counting. More than half of those bills seek to ban abortion at various points of pregnancy.
What does this mean for South Carolinians?
1 in 4 women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the age of 45. We know that banning abortion does not make it less common — it makes it less safe. If abortion is outlawed in South Carolina, people with financial resources and support will have the means to navigate medically unnecessary barriers and travel to a neighboring state to obtain an abortion, while many others will be left without the power to make that decision for themselves. That is what a “post-Roe” world looks like.
S. 1 was the first bill put forward by legislative leadership this year. At a time when thousands of South Carolinians are unemployed, without health insurance, and more than 8,000 have died from COVID-19, anti-abortion lawmakers, including Governor McMaster, decided that their top priority was to insert the government into private medical decisions and control a person’s body.
On top of COVID-19, South Carolina has already been grappling with dangerously high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and unintended teen pregnancy. South Carolina maintains some of the starkest health disparities in the country, with Black women dying at a far higher rate than white women during or after childbirth. According to the United Health Foundation, South Carolina ranks 43rd in maternal mortality.
It is unacceptable that our lawmakers ignored the real needs of their constituents and instead pushed this dangerous bill through the legislature in a matter of five weeks. South Carolinians are already facing urgent crises on many fronts. State leaders should be working to expand access to health care, not restrict it.
We will keep you updated here and on Twitter and Instagram. We expect to face more fights in the future while this law makes its way through the federal court system, and we will need your help in making sure abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible to al