Abortion Rights are Fundamental to Our Well-Being and Freedom
by Ann Warner on Jul 19, 2022
The following Op-Ed was printed in Greenville News on Sunday, July 17.
Three weeks ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion, after nearly fifty years of federal protection. The Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) and our tens of thousands of advocates across the state are outraged about what this decision means for our right to control our health, lives, and futures here in South Carolina.
A six-week abortion ban has already been enacted here in South Carolina, and our legislature is currently debating even more radical restrictions on abortion, rushing through the process as swiftly as possible.
This is despite the fact that a majority of South Carolinians (59%) think South Carolina state lawmakers spend too much time focusing on abortion, and 60% say they do not spend enough time focusing on legislation to support South Carolina families such as increasing access to affordable housing, childcare, health care, and paid leave.
Abortion is a safe and normal aspect of reproductive health care, and people seek abortion care for a multitude of reasons. Decisions about pregnancy, parenting, and health care are deeply personal and private. Despite the strong feelings people may have about abortion, according to a recent poll, three in four (75%) respondents agree that women should have the right to make their own personal health care decisions. Forcing pregnancy and parenting on people will have disastrous consequences for the health, safety, economic security, and freedom of South Carolinians.
The most direct consequence of abortion bans will be on the health status of South Carolinians, especially women, people of color, people who live in rural areas, young people, and people with low incomes. South Carolina already has some of the worst maternal and infant health outcomes in the world, and Black women are more than twice as likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth than white women. Abortion bans will make these outcomes worse by forcing people to go through with pregnancies that can put their lives at risk. Abortion bans will make it harder for doctors to treat pregnancy complications and other health conditions, which is why people denied abortions are more likely to experience serious complications from the end of pregnancy, including eclampsia and death.
There are also economic consequences of abortion bans. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that women who refused an abortion are more likely to report not having enough money to cover basic living expenses such as housing, transportation and food. This ultimately leads to four times greater odds of living below the Federal Poverty Level. Not having full control over our reproductive lives undermines our ability to seek education and to work. Abortion bans will also undermine our state’s economic development, making it harder for companies to recruit and retain female talent.
Abortion bans make people more vulnerable to domestic violence, and subject survivors of violence to more control and intrusion into their private lives. The “exception” in the new abortion ban requires doctors to report survivors of rape and incest who are seeking abortion to law enforcement. This is an unacceptable invasion of survivors’ privacy, safety, and bodily autonomy.
Criminalizing abortion will also turn South Carolina into a police state, where doctors and anyone pregnant or “suspected of being pregnant” could be investigated for their pregnancies, their miscarriages, or other pregnancy outcomes. This is an unacceptable infringement on our personal liberties and will have ripple effects in many other areas of our private lives.
While the situation is dire, it is not a lost cause. South Carolinians who object to this intrusion into their bodily autonomy and personal lives can and should speak up immediately. They need to contact their legislators to demand that they repeal abortion bans and instead support legislation that will help South Carolina families be healthier and more economically prosperous. They need to talk to their neighbors and family members about why they support reproductive rights.
The fight ahead may be long and difficult, but it is necessary. WREN and our partners will never stop advocating for the rights of women, families and gender expansive individuals across the state of South Carolina and we need your support now more than ever. Get involved, support the cause, and take action at scwren.org.
CEO, Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN)
**Public Policy Polling surveyed 636 South Carolina voters from July 1-2, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 3.9%. 50% of interviews for the survey were conducted by telephone and 50% by text message.