South Carolina just changed their abortion laws. Let’s talk.
In the last five years alone, more than 280 laws have been passed in 31 U.S. states that restrict or limit abortion access. In other words, it’s legally become more difficult to attain a safe abortion in some states today than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Case in point, South Carolina, which just this week passed a law that bars women from getting an abortion after the 20th week, or fifth month, of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger or the fetus is no longer viable. Governor Nikki Haley, who was previously hailed for her landmark decision to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state capitol building, signed the bill into law on Wednesday. According to Politico, South Carolina now joins 13 other states with a similar law.
The tricky thing, is it would seem that this ruling violates Roe v. Wade — the Supreme Court case that made abortion legal — but one of the caveats of that ruling was that it allowed states to set restrictions on abortion based around viability. The legal cutoff is supposed to be 24-28 weeks (or six to seven months), but several states have pushed that cut off back to 20 weeks and face little to no consequences in the aftermath. What’s more, states like Texas, Ohio, and the Dakotas, are enacting increasingly “creative” laws that circumvent Roe v. Wade entirely, by putting limits not on women, but the abortion providers that help them.
This summer, the Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case that will analyze whether two anti-abortion laws passed in Texas in 2013 violate the Constitution. The case concerns Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws, which restrict the ability of abortion providers to provide their much-needed services by requiring them to jump through regulatory hoops. If the Supreme Court should rule in favor of Whole Woman’s Health, it could reverse many of the laws that have placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions. We will be following that case, and that ruling, closely.