COLUMBIA, S.C. — Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and Greenville Women’s Clinic filed a federal lawsuit today that seeks to block the state from banning abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Senate Bill 1 passed both chambers in a matter of weeks and will take effect as soon as Governor Henry McMaster signs it into law.
Senate Bill 1 prevents a person from obtaining an abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — only about two weeks after a missed period. This is before many people know they are pregnant. Sexual assault survivors 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.
“Important health care decisions should be made by individuals in consultation with their trusted medical providers and their families, not politicians. Abortion is a critical component of comprehensive reproductive health care, and everyone deserves to have access to the health care they need, without politicians controlling when, how, or why,” said Dr. Katherine Farris, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Abortion bans disproportionately hurt those who already have the least access to quality health care, including people with low incomes, people of color, people who are LGBTQ, and those who live in rural areas. If this law is allowed to go into effect, it will pose a serious threat to South Carolinians’ health and bodily autonomy.”
"If South Carolina politicians truly cared about the quality of life for women and children, they would get to work to expedite the vaccine rollout, expand Medicaid, and address the dangerously high rates of maternal mortality and infant mortality in the state," said Jenny Black, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. "South Carolina maintains some of the starkest health disparities in the country, with Black women dying at four times the rate of white women after they have given birth. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic remains committed to keeping our doors open for our patients and ensuring abortion is safe, legal, and accessible in South Carolina. We will never back down from this fight.”
“Most of our patients don’t even know they’re pregnant until after six weeks,” said the Greenville Women’s Clinic. “That means this law would act as a total abortion ban for most people in South Carolina. Even for patients who find out before six weeks, they often must take time to save up funds, request time off of work, and find child care for their kids if they are a parent."
On top of COVID-19, South Carolina is also grappling with dangerously high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality, and unintended teen pregnancy. According to the United Health Foundation, South Carolina ranks 43rd in maternal mortality, with Black women dying at a far higher rate than white women. The state ranks 47th in infant mortality according to the CDC.
The abortion providers are represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the law firm Burnette Shutt & McDaniel, P.A.
Six-week bans on abortion have been struck down every time they have been challenged. Courts in states like Georgia, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Mississippi, and Tennessee have blocked those states’ bans, acknowledging that it is unconstitutional for a state to prohibit a person from obtaining an abortion before viability—regardless of any so-called exceptions made in the law.
As the country’s most trusted provider of sexual and reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood urges members of the media to use medically-accurate terms in their coverage of policies related to health and medical procedures, including abortion. Political terms such as “heartbeat bill” are not grounded in medical science. Medical experts, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have said the term does not “reflect medical accuracy or clinical understanding.” Instead, “6-week abortion ban” is the recommended, medically accurate term to describe such a bill.