South Carolina Abortion Law

May 24, 2023

All of you listening to me that have daughters and granddaughters…I want you to stop and think about the laws that you’re making for their future. Have you talked to them?

South Carolina Republican State Senator, Katrina Shealy, said as the state Senate discussed a six-week abortion ban in the state.

The Big Picture: A bipartisan group of five women state Senators in South Carolina came together to try to prevent a bill known as "Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act", an act that would ban most abortions at six weeks, when cardiac activity can be detected and, "before most people know they are pregnant." (PBS).

Why It Matters: This law, one of the most restrictive in the nation, follows other states like Texas and Mississippi who have passed similarly restrictive laws, while other states like California and New York have moved to make abortion access more permissive.

The bill includes exceptions for life-saving needs of the patient, fetal anomalies and some exceptions up to 12 weeks for rape and incest. The doctor must report these requirements of rape and incest to local law enforcement. It also requires the biological father to pay child support.

It made it through the state Senate on Tuesday and now must be signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster. A legal challenge remains imminent.

The "Sister Senators": In a rare show of bipartisanship on this particularly divisive issue, the lone five female senators in South Carolina's legislature (three Republican, one Democrat and one Independent), banded together to attempt to block the passing of the six-week abortion bill.

The Sister Senators argued he changes made to the bill by the House altered the earlier bill too much–with Republican state Sen. Penry Gustafsord voting in favor of an earlier version of the ban, but changing her mind as "It is simply not the same bill."

Last month, the group filibustered a near-total ban.

An interesting angle to this story: South Carolina's current abortion law bans most abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy, making it a destination for those in nearby states with stricter laws to seek abortions.

Starting in September 2022 — a month after the state’s previous six-week ban was ruled unconstitutional — out-of-state visitors began to make up nearly half of South Carolina’s total monthly abortion cases, according to provisional data from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In February, DHEC reported that 504 South Carolina residents received an abortion, compared to 482 out-of-state visitors, according to Massey. And in March, 525 S.C. residents and 433 visitors received abortions in South Carolina.

South Carolina's only women senators resist new abortion restrictions up for debate

by Jenna Lee,