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Abortion remains legal in S.C. as bill moves to conference committee

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Today, the South Carolina House failed to approve House Bill 5399, a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. The proposed legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this month, doubled down on the state’s existing ban on abortion, narrowing exceptions and further restricting access to care for survivors of sexual assault and patients with complex pregnancies. The House appointed members to a conference committee and sent the matter back to the Senate.

Currently, abortion remains legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in South Carolina. The state’s existing ban on abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy remains blocked by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for October 19.

“Today abortion remains legal in South Carolina, and our fight now turns to the ballot box to keep it that way,” said Vicki Ringer, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic. “Reproductive freedom is on the ballot this November, and the results of this election will determine the future of abortion access for the people of this state for generations. If you believe that South Carolinians should have the right to make private decisions about their health, their family, and their future without government interference, make sure you get out and vote for candidates who will defend this fundamental freedom. ”

“We’re thrilled that South Carolinians can still access their constitutional right to abortion and grateful to the thousands of abortion rights activists who showed up at the State House to fight for their reproductive freedom,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “That fight is far from over and the stakes could not be higher. This November, it is critical that we make our voices heard in South Carolina and across the country to elect leaders who will trust us to make our own decisions about our lives and our bodies. Planned Parenthood Action Fund will never stop fighting to ensure that everyone has access to the health care they need no matter where they live or who they are.”

Recent polling shows that abortion bans like House Bill 5399 are wildly unpopular with people in the state. According to the poll, conducted July 1-2, 2022 by Public Policy Polling, nearly two-thirds of South Carolinians want abortion to be legal and accessible in their state. Nearly 70% believe the decision to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor — not state lawmakers.

Not only are abortion bans unpopular, they’re bad for business. The economic losses from existing abortion restrictions, including labor force impact and earnings, already cost state economies across the nation an estimated $105 billion annually and the average worker 9% in earnings loss.