Last week, South Carolina took center stage in the fight to protect our constitutional right to access abortion. While state senators debated a near total ban on abortion, our friends at Planned Parentood South Atlantic argued before the South Carolina Supreme Court to protect our rights.
If you're having a hard time keeping up with all the ins-and-outs of these attacks on women, we've got you covered with this quick update.
At the Legislature
House Bill 5399, which calls for a total abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, was once again rejected by the state Senate. Senators want a 6-week abortion ban; representatives want a total ban. Neither is acceptable.
With neither chamber willing to agree to the other's legislation, the bill is now headed to a conference committee where three representatives and three senators will attempt to reach an agreement to present to their respective chambers. If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement by election day, the bill will fail.
But we can’t just sit back and watch this unfold. Make sure your elected leaders hear your voice–reach out to members of the conference committee and let them know you support reproductive freedom and oppose all abortion bans.
Representative John McCravy (R- Greenwood): (864) 942-8501
Representative Tommy Pope (R- York): (803) 324-7574
Representative Spencer Wetmore (D - Charleston): (803) 202-6872
Senator Margie Bright Matthews (D - Colleton): (803) 212-6008
Senator Richard Cash (R-Anderson): (864) 505-2130
Senator Shane Massey (R- Edgefield): (803) 212-6330
In the Courts
On Wednesday, October 19 , the South Carolina Supreme Court heard arguments in Planned Parenthood South Atlantic v. South Carolina, a case that argues the state’s six-week abortion ban violates the individual right to privacy enshrined in Article I, Section 10 of the South Carolina Constitution.
The oral arguments lasted well over two hours and spanned a variety of topics. The justices grilled attorneys on the state’s privacy clause, and several justices also honed in on the impact of the word “unreasonable” within the “unreasonable invasions of privacy” clause. Justice Hearn suggested that perhaps Planned Parenthood’s best argument is that the six-week ban cannot be “reasonable” because it imposes a restriction on abortions at a time when most women aren’t even aware they’re pregnant.
The conclusion of oral arguments kicks off a waiting game. There’s no clear timetable for when the Court will release an opinion. Importantly, the Court has already ruled that the six-week ban cannot be enforced while the case is pending. As a result, abortion remains legal in South Carolina until 20 weeks.
With midterm elections just a couple weeks away, the volume of political rhetoric and attempts to undermine our constitutional rights can be overwhelming--but voting for candidates who will stand up for reproductive freedom is one of the most important things we can do in this fight.
No matter what happens on Election Day, ACLU of South Carolina and national ACLU will continue to fight alongside our incredible partners for all South Carolinians’ access to abortion and reproductive justice.