For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 18, 2021
South Carolina — Today, anti-choice Republican Governor Henry McMaster signed into law an extreme and dangerous bill to ban abortion before many people even know they’re pregnant. The bill—which passed in the state Senate by a 30-13 vote earlier this month—passed by a 74-39 vote in the state House on Thursday. During debate on the bill on Wednesday, a majority of Democratic representatives walked out in protest of the unconstitutional legislation. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America have already announced plans to file a federal lawsuit seeking to block the ban from going into effect.
Despite the tragic deaths of more than 8,000 South Carolinians due to COVID-19, and more than 490,000 cases statewide, Republicans in the General Assembly prioritized attacking reproductive health at the start of their 2021 session rather than addressing the pandemic. The out-of-step actions of the increasingly extreme Republican Party in the state conflict with the needs of South Carolinians— and with the 77% of Americans who support Roe v. Wade and the legal right to abortion.
Following today’s vote, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue released the following statement:
“At a time where South Carolinians need expanded access to critical healthcare, Republicans in the General Assembly have instead prioritized banning abortion while simultaneously criminalizing medical providers who have worked tirelessly to keep residents safe and healthy in the midst of the pandemic. Governor McMaster’s commitment to strip South Carolinians of their fundamental freedoms and willingness to threaten doctors who provide abortion care with prison time is as cruel as it is unconstitutional. Every South Carolinian should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their families and their futures. Infringing on that freedom while criminalizing heroic frontline health workers is a telltale indicator of their misguided priorities.”
Recent polling of South Carolina voters in key state Senate districts 31, 33, and 41 showed a large majority (67%) of voters believe that abortion should be legal and that the government should not prevent a woman from making that decision for herself.
In South Carolina, 71% of women live in counties with no abortion clinic, and the state has some of the most severe restrictions on reproductive freedom in the United States, which include forcing a pregnant person to wait 24 hours before they can access abortion care and subjecting people to mandatory biased counseling. These restrictions disproportionately harm BIPOC, low-income, and rural communities.
S.B. 1’s extreme restrictions on abortion follow a disturbing strategy from the anti-choice movement to pass similar legislation across the country, advancing bans on abortion in nearly a dozen states this year alone, in the hopes of gutting or overturning Roe v. Wade now that there’s a Trump supermajority on the Court hostile to abortion rights.
A recent media analysis conducted by Global Strategy Group found that coverage of abortion in top-tier print outlets often parrots disinformation-based rhetoric, using medically inaccurate or inflammatory language, such as “heartbeat” bill, without sufficient context or explanation, excludes the voices of medical experts and pregnant people, and lacks proper context on public opinion of abortion (that the majority of Americans support reproductive freedom). Visit Tell the Whole Story for resources on ensuring fair, accurate, and inclusive coverage.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates and chapters have fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom—including access to abortion, contraception, and paid family leave—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 7 in 10 Americans who believe every person should have the freedom to make the best decision for themselves about if, when, and how to raise a family.