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In a 6 to 3 decision on June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing the court's 50-year-old decision that guaranteed a woman's right to obtain an abortion. The court's action also set off trigger laws that banned or severely restricted abortions in some states and prompted protests across the country.

SC House Committee hears from residents about abortion laws as they consider restrictions

The South Carolina State House at sunset.
A committee in the South Carolina House of Representatives heard from residents of the state on their perspective on abortion law Thursday.

The South Carolina House Ad Hoc Committee met on Thursday afternoon as the committee looks to consider more restrictive abortion regulations. But the meeting was more about hearing from South Carolina residents than the legislators drafting legislation.

“The purpose of these hearings is to begin the process of drafting South Carolina legislation concerning the protection of the unborn,” said Rep. John McCravy, chair of the committee. “Today is a public hearing part of this process. Our job today is to listen to you –the people of South Carolina – on this very important topic.”

Some of the speakers at the hearing encouraged the committee to further restrict abortion. But others advocated forcefully for women’s rights to make their own decisions on their health and needs.

There were hundreds of people who signed up to speak, according to McCravy, and some of the speakers arrived at 6:30 a.m. for the hearing that began at noon.

Prior to the public comment section of the hearing, the committee heard from constitutional law attorney Courtney Milbank, an attorney for the Bopp Law Firm out of Indiana.

Milbank was invited by the committee, and her testimony provided a possible legislative framework for the state to further restrict abortion.

Now that Roe and Casey have been overturned, we would recommend that you act to protect life in South Carolina,” Milbank said.

The model legislation that was submitted with Milbank’s written testimony would ban all abortions except for cases where carrying the pregnancy would threaten the life of a woman, she said.

That legislative model would also criminalize “aiding and abetting unlawful abortions,” “trafficking” abortion pills and “unlawful abortion trafficking of a minor.”

“I look forward to seeing what South Carolina does and what laws it enacts to protect the unborn, especially in light of Dobbs and the opportunity it presents,” Milbank said.

South Carolina is one of the states that had legislation known as a Fetal Heartbeat bill when Roe v Wade was overturned. That law bars abortion after cardiac activity is detected, which happens at around 6 weeks of pregnancy. That is often before most women know they are pregnant.

The courts gave the state the go-ahead last Monday to begin implementing the law. And after the Roe precedent was overturned, Rep. McCravy told WFAE that legislators are ready to go further.

“We want to close the gap between the heartbeat and conception,” McCravy said. “And we hope to do that soon.”

The House Ad Hoc Committee is composed of eight republican representatives and four democratic representatives.

In the South Carolina House of Representatives, House Bill 5399 has been tentatively introduced without many details. The legislation as of now just bans abortion, but the committee's future discussions will flesh out the law that would then face a vote in the legislature.

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Lars Lonnroth is a journalism and political science student at Mercer University in Georgia. He's interning at WFAE.