Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

As hundreds of demonstrators descended Thursday on the S.C. Statehouse grounds to protest, rally and testify about a proposed complete ban on abortions, concern arose over how harsh such a ban could be to South Carolina’s women.

“Just about everyone knows and cares about someone who has had an abortion,” said state Rep. Spencer Wetmore, D-Charleston. “Whether her friends and family know about it or not, women make the incredibly difficult decision either for health reasons or because they aren’t able to care for a child. And we simply can’t turn women and doctors into criminals.”

Wetmore was referring to a Senate proposal that would offer no exceptions to an abortion ban and would create criminal penalties for women who crossed state borders to undergo the procedure. Abortion has been in the news for the last month since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned abortion protections from Roe v. Wade, which triggered a pre-passed law banning most abortions in South Carolina. Now some lawmakers are pushing for more.

“We know that 99% of abortions happen in the first trimester, and it is a decision a woman makes with her doctor, not her senator,” Wetmore said. “We need to trust women to make decisions about their own health care, and keep politics out of the exam room.”

While the Senate is expected to have a hearing on its proposed ban within weeks, the House hearing on Thursday frustrated many because the testimony was about H. 5399, a bill that doesn’t yet have any language attached to it.  

“Because there is no proposed language, all we have to go on for clues as to our comments are national model bills and what’s been introduced in the Senate,” Wetmore said. “The Senate bill doesn’t have an exception for rape and incest, and it makes it a felony to travel or transport someone for an abortion. Further, this bill turns our doctors into criminals, and it creates a private cause of action to sue the doctors and profit from the litigation.”

Lynn Teague, a vice president with the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, said the House hearing was out of order.

“The founding fathers understood that separation of church and state is essential to representative democracy,” she said today. “The Supreme Court of the United States decision overturning Roe v. Wade opened the door to ignoring that fundamental protection. Yesterday the House Ad Hoc Committee gave every indication that it intends to walk through that open door.”

In other recent news:

Graham, six others subpoenaed in 2020 election probe. A special Georgia grand jury looking into former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election on Tuesday subpoenaed U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and six others to testify next week. Among those also subpoenaed were attorneys Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, both advisers to Trump. Graham has vowed to fight the subpoena. The grand jury reportedly seeks to discuss at least two telephone calls Graham made in January 2020 with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff about the election results. 

James named new leader of S.C. conservation group. South Carolina’s Coastal Conservation League, one of the state’s preeminent advocacy organizations, has a new leader – a Mount Pleasant native and Harvard-trained lawyer who has seen how unbridled growth and development changed the Lowcountry landscape. 

Lincolnville, 4 other sites added to national historic Reconstruction network. The Town of Lincolnville, located on the edge of Charleston County outside of Summerville, has been added to the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, along with four other sites. The network is part of an effort to tell the story of American Reconstruction after the Civil War.

DHEC reports 11,844 new cases in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control this week reported 11,844 new Covid-19 cases in the state, an increase of 1,100 cases from the previous week. Meanwhile, a reported 0.6% of children under the age of 5 have received the Covid-19 vaccine and pharmacists now have the ability to prescribe the Covid-19 treatment drug known as Paxlovid.

Vesey’s legacy endures 200 years later, historians say.  Denmark Vesey was a freed former slave who is thought to have led a failed insurrection in 1822 in which 35 people were hanged. Vesey’s efforts, however, inspired other abolitionists and modern-day activists. Vesey’s message of freedom still reverberates today through ongoing conversations of social justice and equality. In an ongoing discussion of his legacy, descendants of Vesey have also shared the family history of the courageous abolitionist. For more commentary, see what City Paper’s Herb Frazier has to say.

Statewide sales tax holiday begins Aug. 5. The 72-hour statewide sales tax holiday is scheduled to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 5 and will run through Aug. 7.

Gas prices continue to decline in S.C. AAA reported a decrease in gasoline prices across the state. State average for regular gas is now $4.28.

Thousands of S.C. immigrants at risk of deportation. Immigration protections for children brought to South Carolina are at risk of being shut down. The Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is currently amid a pending Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the program.

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