South Carolinians continue to face the harms of a global pandemic. Workers are forced to choose between their health and a paycheck. Children who lack internet access at home do not receive an equal education. Uninsured people are forced to navigate a global health pandemic without health insurance. Incarcerated people are locked in crowded facilities where social distancing is impossible, and people are dying from COVID as a result.
All these harms fall disproportionately on Black and Brown people and that is not by accident. These outcomes are the natural result of a system of racist policies and economic exploitation that has governed our society since the beginning.
Instead of addressing these serious issues, the legislature has instead devoted their energy to attacking the fundamental right to abortion. This is unconscionable.
S.1 has placed politicians between patients and the medical care they need and deserve. The bill prohibits abortions after any embryonic cardiac activity is detected, which is usually at six weeks. In reality, this means that abortions will be banned before most people even know they are pregnant. As a result, most pregnant people will be denied the right to decide about their healthcare before they know they have a decision to make.
When combined with other barriers to abortion access including a lack of transportation, mandatory waiting periods, and cost, S.1 amounts to a total ban on abortion for most people in South Carolina.
Forced pregnancy at the hands of the legislature is at odds with our state’s own goal of decreasing pregnancy-related mortality and further endangers the lives of Black South Carolinians and people who live in rural and/or under-resourced areas. The rate of pregnancy-related mortality in South Carolina is 25.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, significantly higher than the national average of 14 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Under this statistic lies a staggering racial disparity, with pregnancy-related death rates being 2.6 times higher for Black people in South Carolina (43.3 deaths/100,000 live births) than for their white counterparts (16.4 deaths/100,000 live births). For each person who dies as a result of pregnancy, many more experience life-threatening complications.
Legislators have plowed ahead despite clear warnings that S.1 is unconstitutional and will be challenged in court. They are committing the state to spending precious taxpayer dollars on unnecessary court battles to defend a legally indefensible law.
Today our legislature and Governor placed politics in front of the health, safety, and privacy of South Carolinians. Shame on them.