How SC sheriffs are responding to reporting requirement in six-week abortion ban

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Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - While most abortions in South Carolina are now prohibited after six weeks, the state’s new law does allow for exceptions for rape and incest at up to 20 weeks.

But the law also requires patients who undergo abortions for this reason have their names and contact information reported to law enforcement.

In these situations, doctors are mandated to report rape and incest allegations to the sheriff’s office in the county where the abortion was performed within 24 hours of the procedure. Physicians must notify patients of this reporting requirement before they perform the abortion and note the procedure in their medical records.

Three clinics in South Carolina provide abortions, located in Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston, so it is up to the sheriffs in Greenville County, Richland County, and Charleston County to determine what they do when they receive these reports.

Two of those sheriffs said they will not be investigating further unless the woman wants that.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano, South Carolina’s only female sheriff, said in a statement that her office has been speaking with healthcare providers to determine the best way to comply with the new law.

“I want the public to know that while these providers are now mandated by law to send us these reports regardless of the will of their patients, we will not contact the patient if she doesn’t want us to,” Graziano said in the statement. “We will offer our support and investigative services only if they request it.”

She continued, “I know all too well the pain and heartache that comes from sexual assault, as a family member to a victim and as someone who has worked with them as a law enforcement officer. It is traumatizing, and my agency will do everything we can to offer care, solace and respect to these women who are seeking health care.”

In Columbia, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said it does not have a specific policy on this.

“As with any report we get, we would vet it, then potentially follow up on it if there’s information to follow up on,” the department said in a statement. “If the woman doesn’t want to follow up or have it investigated, then we would go no further than that.”

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said it does not have comment at this time.

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