Editorial: Nowhere to turn: South Carolina abortion ban leaves South with few options
Published in Political News
South Carolina, a red state holdout on imposing draconian abortion bans, has now folded, with Gov. Henry McMaster expected to sign a six week ban that cleared the legislature this week. It was the second attempt, with the state Senate now overcoming the joint opposition of the body’s only five women — including three Republicans, one independent, and one Democrat — who had blocked the measure once before. At six weeks, most women or girls won’t even know she’s pregnant, making the ban all but a total one.
In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Dobbs decision, as several so-called trigger bans went into effect immediately, women in affected states at least had the possibility of getting care in a neighboring state, prompting some states to take the shockingly undemocratic step of attempting to ban interstate travel for abortions. Last year, Senate Republicans shot down a federal bill that would have protected women who did so.
Yet even that paltry option is increasingly unreachable for women across a large swath of the country. With the enactment of restrictive measures in Florida and North Carolina, those in the South are running out of options unless they can spare the time and expense to travel much farther to receive what should be an accessible and uncontroversial medical procedure.
This, as has been stressed over and over by advocates, researchers, civil libertarians and others, will not stop abortions from happening. It will simply push women — including girls, whom anti-abortion zealots often claim to be protecting — to engage in much riskier illegal abortions that, unlike safe medication abortion and surgical procedures conducted in sterile, licensed facilities, carries significant risks to the patient’s health and safety.
Ultimately, it was always folly to rely on a decades-old, flimsy court precedent to ensure what should be a fundamental right. Congress should have codified the right to an abortion before the high court had the opportunity to knock the precedent down. That of course didn’t happen, but it’s better late than never.
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