WREN Statement in Opposition to S. 474
by Ann Warner on May 9, 2023
Statement in Opposition to S. 474
House Judiciary Constitutional Laws
May 9, 2023
Thank you, Chairman Jordan, and members of the Committee, for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Ann Warner and I am the CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to build a movement to advance the health, economic well-being, and rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, gender expansive people, and their families.
On behalf of our organization, I am asking committee members to vote NO on S. 474. This bill is unpopular, extreme, and dangerous. Most South Carolinians want abortion to remain legal and accessible, and they are opposed to extreme bans like this one. A 6-week abortion ban is effectively an outright abortion ban, since it occurs before most people even realize that they are pregnant. South Carolinians are opposed to a bank like this because they know that it puts people’s lives at risk, because it pushes health care further out of reach for the vulnerable, and makes pregnancy more dangerous for everyone. And South Carolinians also see this type of legislation as an unacceptable violation of privacy, as enshrined in our state constitution, because it would give the state power over our most personal and important decisions. I’ll elaborate briefly on each of these points.
Pregnancy is already a dangerous condition in South Carolina. South Carolina ranks 50th in the nation in healthcare for pregnant mothers and newborns. We rank 50th in number of midwives and Obstetricians / Gynecologists per capita.[i] Our maternal and infant mortality rates are among the highest in the nation, and both are far higher for Black mothers and infants.[ii] Black mothers are more than twice as likely to die during pregnancy or in childbirth than white mothers.[iii] Extreme restrictions on abortion make pregnancy more dangerous. Abortion bans force pregnancy onto people who have health complications: research shows that people denied abortions are more likely to experience serious complications from the end of pregnancy, including eclampsia and death. [iv] Any person of reproductive age could be harmed by this law, but the people who will suffer the most will be people who already face barriers to health care, including young people, people of color, people with disabilities, survivors of violence, people with low incomes, and people living in rural areas.
This law would not only make abortion nearly impossible to provide to people who need it; it would also make it far more difficult for physicians to provide the best care possible for their patients for a wide range of health conditions, like miscarriage, preeclampsia, diabetes or cancer. The fear of criminal prosecution could overshadow their best medical judgment and the wishes of their patients, or force them to send patients out of state, which would delay their care. At least 14 of our counties do not have a single OB/GYN. Prisma Health Laurens County has just stopped providing labor and delivery because of a shortage of OB/GYNS. We simply cannot afford to make it even more difficult for doctors to do their jobs, or for patients to find good, quality health care.
Restricting abortion access also has economic consequences. We have extensive data on the economic consequences of being denied abortion care via the Turnaway Study, a rigorous, longitudinal study comparing women who received the abortions they sought with women who were “turned away” from an abortion because of legal restrictions. Women who were turned away from a wanted abortion and went on to give birth were nearly four times as likely to be living in poverty six months later and three times as likely to be unemployed relative to those who received an abortion. Years after an abortion denial, women were more likely to not have enough money to cover basic living expenses like food, housing and transportation. They were 78% more likely to end up with delinquent debt and 81% more likely to have an increase in negative credit. Women denied abortion are more likely to remain tethered to abusive partners — in large part because of their financial dependency on their abusers. The consequences are intergenerational: children born as a result of abortion denial are more likely to live in poverty than children born from a subsequent pregnancy to women who received the abortion.[v]
Finally, banning abortion and forcing pregnancy would force the government into people’s private lives and would deny them the fundamental freedom to decide whether, when, and how to become a parent. South Carolinians are capable of making these decisions about their lives without government intrusion.
Some proponents of this bill may believe that they have the best interests of South Carolinians at heart, but this is government overreach at its worst. Forcing pregnancy is undemocratic, and it is cruel. It will lead to catastrophic consequences for our health, our economic security, and our fundamental rights.
I ask you to respect our judgment, our well-being, our freedom, and our lives by voting NO to S.474. Thank you for your consideration.
[iv] Retrieved from https://www.ansirh.org/research/turnaway-study
[v] Retrieved from https://www.ansirh.org/research/turnaway-study