South Carolina women need access – NOT barriers – to abortion and all other reproductive healthcare.

When a woman has made the decision to have an abortion, she needs support, not judgment. It is not our place to put up roadblocks just to make it harder for her to obtain care, but unfortunately South Carolina already has numerous laws on the books that do just that.

Since the 2005/2006 South Carolina legislative session, 99 harmful sexual and reproductive health bills have been introduced in our state, and as this list of restrictions continues to grow, recent polling data shows that relatively few South Carolinians– only 15%– believe that abortion care should be banned in our state.

Below is the list of unnecessary laws that are already on the books, impacting the dignity, rights and freedom of South Carolina women and families:

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: Scripts often include information about abortion that is medically inaccurate and can scare, guilt, or shame people seeking care.

There are well-established requirements in state and federal law for sharing accurate and unbiased information to help people make healthcare decisions and provide consent to treatment and services. The state mandated script specific to abortion care undermines 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: First of all, this waiting period presumes that women are not able to make their own decisions about when they need abortion care. Furthermore, this unnecessary delay often creates additional delays. Planning a second visit may require more time off from work, more transportation expenses, and additional child care arrangements. This policy has a huge impact on a woman’s ability to access care when she needs 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 abortion 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 we cannot leave out those who are unable to do so.

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 seeking abortion 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 an 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.

These restrictions impact the dignity, rights, and freedom of South Carolina women and families. We should be promoting access – NOT barriers – to abortion and all other reproductive health care.

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