The U.S. Supreme Court Friday morning voted to overturn Roe v. Wade | Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Editor’s Note: Updated 3:17 p.m.

After months of deliberations, the U.S. Supreme Court today voted to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, ending constitutional protections for people seeking abortions.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 to uphold Mississippi’s 20-week abortion ban in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, asserting that a person does not inherently have the right to privacy and that no provision in the Constitution protects the right to abortion. Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion declared that the court’s decision in Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start” and that “its reasoning was exceptionally weak.” The decision does not ban abortions in the U.S., but it turns that decision over to the states.

Elected South Carolina leaders have already taken to social media and other platforms to shout cries of victory or grief over the decision. 

File photo via Twitter

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a resounding victory for the Constitution and for those who have worked for so many years to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us,” Gov. Henry McMaster wrote on Twitter. “By the end of the day, we will file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect in South Carolina and immediately begin working with members of the General Assembly to determine the best solution for protecting the lives of unborn South Carolinians.”

But McMaster’s gubernatorial opponent in this November’s general election, former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, vowed to use his authority as governor, should he win, to ensure abortion rights remain intact in the Palmetto State. 

Photo by Skyler Baldwin

“This is a dark day in American history,” he said in a statement. “The four walls of a doctor’s office simply aren’t big enough for a woman, her partner, her doctor and the government. But the government has decided to force themselves in anyway. 

“Governor McMaster and radical politicians in Columbia have already pledged to ban all abortions in South Carolina with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother,” he continued. “The only thing standing in the way of this draconian reality is my veto pen. As governor, I won’t hesitate to use that pen to stand up for women and their right to control their own bodies.”

The varying reactions fall nearly perfectly on party lines.

“Today’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade pits states against states for legal abortion access and creates terrifyingly difficult barriers for women and families who live in states controlled by Republicans,” the state Democratic Party said today in a statement. “Elections have consequences and it will be up to voters to push back on the GOP’s single-minded focus to gain control over your body by voting in November.”

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Charleston, however, contended the decision wasn’t designed to outlaw abortion or restrict women’s rights, but instead puts the decision back on state legislators.

Nancy Mace | Photo by Rūta Smith

“Today’s ruling returns power back to the states and power back to Congress on policies pertaining to life, where it rightfully belongs,” she said on Twitter. “This ruling protects federalism inherent in our Constitution and also returns this power back to the people and those they elected to represent them.”

Dr. Annie Andrews, Mace’s opponent in the upcoming November election, said she hopes this is a rallying flag for Democrats to vote out Republican politicians.

Provided

“This is exactly what Nancy Mace’s Republican extremist party has spent decades fighting to accomplish,” she said in a statement. “It is more important than ever to vote them out, NOW. With this ruling, it is now up to Congress to codify abortion rights into law. Even though I am running against a woman, make no mistake, I am the only woman in this race who will fight for Lowcountry women to make their own reproductive decisions without interference from extremist politicians.”

What happens now?

With McMaster’s announced plan to file a motion to lift the injunction on South Carolina’s six-week ban by end of day Friday, many South Carolinians are wondering what steps the state will take next.

House representatives John McCravy, R-Greenwood, James Lucas, R-Darlington, G. Murrell Smith Jr., R-Sumter, Travis Moore, R-Spartanburg, Brian White, R-Anderson and Thomas Ligon, R-Chester, have already sponsored H. 5399, a bill that aims to entirely ban abortions. Though no other details on the bill have been released yet, McMaster has previously stated that he would support a bill that bans all abortions with no exceptions for situations like rape, incest or life-threatening complications for the mother.

Speaker of the House Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, established an ad hoc committee at the end of May, chaired by McCravy, to seek public testimony on the impact an abortion ban would have on South Carolinians. The committee will flesh out details for the H. 5399 bill. The date of the public hearing has yet to be announced. 

It’s unclear as of now how far state legislators will try to take abortion restriction laws in South Carolina and whether or not they will try to pass legislation criminalizing abortion procedures and possibly even criminalizing out-of-state travel to receive abortion care.

Another bill currently in committee in the state Senate, S. 988, seeks to prohibit abortion procedures and “provide penalties for violating the prohibition,” though it’s unclear what those penalties could entail.

“I will do all in my power to help to protect a woman’s right in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision,” said President Joe Biden in remarks given at the White House following the announcement of the court’s decision. 

“While the court decision cast a dark shade over a large swath of the land, many states in this country still recognize a woman’s right to choose. So, if a woman lives in a state that restricts abortion, the Supreme Court’s decision does not prevent her from traveling from her home state to the state that allows it,” he continued. “It does not prevent a doctor in that state from treating her. As the attorney general made clear, women must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek care they need. My administration will defend that bedrock right.”

How to take action

“South Carolina lawmakers have promised to use this decision to completely ban abortion and criminalize pregnancy outcomes in this state. Lawmakers need to stay out of the personal decisions of patients, their families, and their providers, especially when the overwhelming majority of South Carolina residents support the legal right to obtain an abortion,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic director of public affairs Vicki Ringer said in a statement. “We urge the people of this state to raise their voices and call their state legislators to urge them to protect our reproductive freedom.”

An employee for Charleston Abortion Fund (CAF) previously told City Paper when discussing the possibility of Roe being overturned: “I don’t want people to hear the news and immediately shut down and think: ‘It’s over. There’s nothing we can do,’ No, let’s figure out how we’re going to make our voices heard.”

To help support individuals seeking abortion care and continue the fight to keep abortion access in South Carolina, check out these resources:

Support Carolina Abortion Fund

This nonprofit organization serves both North and South Carolina, offering financial, practical and emotional support. CAF helps people seeking abortions pay for procedures and travel costs as well as make travel arrangements. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling, the organization is anticipating call volume to increase by 4,000% as people from other states swarm to North Carolina, where abortion is expected to remain legal, for care. 

CAF also runs a program called Text Abby, which is a free texting line for people under 18, to answer questions about access in North Carolina and guide teens through the judicial waiver process if they choose.

Sign up to volunteer with CAF or make a donation to help further its mission.

Work with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic

Planned Parenthood South Atlantic is always looking for volunteers to help with everything from greeting and escorting patients upon arrival for appointments to assisting with outreach and education.

You can also make a contribution to the regional sector of Planned Parenthood and help support 14 centers in its service area. 

Volunteer with Palmetto State Abortion Fund

Palmetto State Abortion Fund is “majority Black, majority woman-led abortion fund” run entirely by volunteers to provide South Carolinians with financial, logistical and emotional support. You can sign up to be a volunteer here

Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network

This South Carolina-based organization is committed to protecting rights for women, girls and gender expansive people by advocating with the South Carolina General Assembly, educating the public on issues, engaging with communities throughout the state and building coalitions with South Carolina businesses and organizations. You can donate or sign up to volunteer via its website scwren.org. Keep an eye on its Twitter page for information on the date of the House ad hoc committee’s public hearing.

Amplify AbortionFinder.org and INeedanA.com

Both of these online resources (AbortionFinder.org and INeedanA.com) can help individuals find health centers near them where abortion services are offered. Spread the word about these services as they will become even more vital as states pass bans on abortion. 

Contact your state legislators

You can use this form set up by the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) to send an email to South Carolina legislators telling them you want to keep abortion access in the state. 

This is a developing story. Follow Charleston City Paper for updates.


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