Here’s what’s next for South Carolina after Roe v. Wade overturned

Overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t ban medications for abortions
South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat bill
South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat bill(MGN)
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 5:27 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Gov. Henry McMaster said Friday the state will file motions by the end of the day for the Fetal Heartbeat Act to go into effect.

The law was signed in 2021 but faced several legal challenges prior to the Supreme Court decision. Once in effect, South Carolina doctors would be required to perform ultrasounds to check for a “fetal heartbeat,” typically detected about six weeks into a pregnancy.

In 2020, according to SCDHEC, more than 5,000 abortions were provided in the state, though not all abortions that occurred in South Carolina were provided to state residents. Some may have traveled from other states, and some Carolinians may have traveled to another state for an abortion.

RELATED: McMaster, other SC leaders react to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

In South Carolina, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of June 24, 2022:

  • The parent of a minor younger than 17 must consent before an abortion is provided; health professionals are allowed to waive parental involvement in limited circumstances.
  • An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the last menstrual period) only in cases of life endangerment, severely compromised physical health or lethal fetal anomaly. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases of life endangerment, or in cases of rape or incest.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest, or severely compromised health.
  • A patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • The state requires abortion clinics to meet unnecessary and burdensome standards related to their physical plant, equipment and staffing.
  • The use of telemedicine to administer medication for abortion is prohibited.

Those restrictions may become null and void as the Fetal Heartbeat Act goes into effect.

RELATED: SC governor appealing injunction against fetal heartbeat bill

South Carolinians seeking to terminate pregnancies have been less likely to use surgical procedures in recent years, leaning towards abortions induced by medication, according to statistics from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

According to SCDHEC, almost half the abortions in the state were induced by medications.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration lifted long-standing restrictions on mifepristone, allowing doctors to prescribe the medication online and send them to patients by mail.

Mifepristone and misoprostol were approved by the FDA for use in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Misoprostol was available with a prescription before the FDA’s decision.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Friday, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, that states cannot ban medications used to bring about an abortion.

The medications cannot be banned based on disagreement with the federal government on their safety and efficacy.

SCDHEC’s data showed very few abortions were the result of medical emergencies or fetal anomalies.

In South Carolina, the overwhelming majority of abortions occurred within six weeks or less, according to SCDHEC. The majority of those are in the 20 to 29-year-old age group.

South Carolina abortion statistics
South Carolina abortion statistics(SCDHEC)

There was a 17% decline in the abortion rate in South Carolina between 2014 and 2017, from 6.4 to 5.3 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Abortions in South Carolina represent 0.6% of all abortions in the United States

The number of teenage pregnancies in South Carolina from 2010 to 2020 declined consistently, as did the number of fetal deaths and abortions relating to teen pregnancies.

South Carolina abortion statistics
South Carolina abortion statistics(SCDHEC)

Horry, Marion, Marlboro, Darlington, Dillon and Georgetown counties saw the same decline as the state for those years.

Florence County saw a decrease in teen pregnancies and teen abortions, but an increase in fetal deaths of pregnant teens.

teenage pregnancies in South Carolina from 2010 to 2020
teenage pregnancies in South Carolina from 2010 to 2020(SCDHEC)

More information about SCDHEC data can be found by clicking here.

The 2020 report is the most current. The 2021 Abortion Statistics Report is expected to be completed and available around the end of June.

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