What Restrictions are Already Law?

November 7, 2017

It is not our place to judge the decision to seek an abortion or to put up road blocks just to make it harder to obtain care, but unfortunately South Carolina already has numerous laws on the books that do just that – create special requirements and additional hurdles to the ability to provide or obtain abortion care.  We need to understand the laws that are already in place as part of the larger agenda.

Too often when a new bill is considered, people forget the many barriers that already exist.  Since the 2005/2006 South Carolina legislative session, 92 harmful sexual and reproductive health bills have been introduced in our state.

By clearly outlining the restrictions that already exist in South Carolina, we hope to help people understand how tough it is to get care and the need to oppose any new attacksand build a
strong foundation to advance proactive measures to support the health, rights and opportunities
of South Carolina woman and families.

Below is a list of South Carolina laws that are already on the books:

So-Called Informed Consent

South Carolina has a law requiring anyone seeking an abortion to receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and imposes a 24 hour waiting period before the procedure is performed.

Why this is a problem: The information in state scripts often include information that is not only designed to guilt and shame people seeking care, but actually includes medically inaccurate information to scare them.

There are well established requirements in state and federal law for sharing accurate and unbiased information to help people make health care decisions and provide consent to treatment and services.  A state mandated script does not help to enhance this process and with the inclusion of inaccurate claims is actually a contradiction to consent standards.

Forced Delays

South Carolina’s law pushing state counseling also imposes a 24 hour waiting period before the procedure is performed.

Why this is a problem: Let’s get rid of the illusion that we are really talking about 24 hours.  It is far more than that when someone has to go to the clinic for an initial visit and then arrange for a second visit to get care on another day.  They have to yet again take time off from work when many of us don’t have much of any paid time off, arrange for child care, and in many cases travels hours to the next available clinic.  This policy has a huge impact on the ability to access care when people need it. 

Denying Health Coverage for Abortion

There are numerous limitations on health coverage in South Carolina.  Health plans offered in South Carolina’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest. Public employees only have health coverage for abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, or when the woman’s heath is severely compromised. Health benefits provided under the Medicaid program (aka “public funding”) may only be provided for abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Why this is a problem: Women should have coverage for the full range of reproductive health care that they need, including abortion. They should not have to buy a supplemental plan in order to be covered for services that they may need. This pushes care out of reach for many people.

Limiting Access to Medication Abortion

The use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion (abortion provided early in
pregnancy through the use of pills) is prohibited in South Carolina.

Why this is a problem: Telemedicine uses telecommunications to provide health services, exchange health information, or manage patient care. The majority of counties in South Carolina have no abortion provider and health services are scarce in both rural and some urban areas.  The use of technology to provide care is not a luxury–it is a necessity, but abortion providers are being denied the ability to use innovative healthcare delivery methods to meet the needs of their patients and ensure access to quality care.

Forced Parental Consent

Anyone under 17 must obtain consent from a parent before they can obtain an abortion.  Health professionals are allowed to waive parental involvement in limited circumstances.

Why this is a problem: Some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of a young person seeking care without their parent or guardian. The fact is that most young people do involve a parent when they are making decisions about health care, but for those who feel they cannot and who have shown the need and maturity to make the decision, we should put their health needs first.

We can encourage young people to seek out a parent, a family member or a trusted adult in their life when making important health decisions.  What we should not do is put up more roadblocks to young people when they are in need of health care.

Restriction on Later Abortion Care

An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks post fertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised or there is a lethal fetal anomaly. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community.

Why this is a problem: Not every pregnancy ends the way a family hopes it will. Because each situation is different, we should protect the ability to make our own decisions in consultation with those we trust and without the interference of politicians.

Be the Voice for halting additional harmful restrictions by signing this petition today.



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