South Carolina joined other Southern states putting stiff restrictions on abortion Thursday when the governor signed a bill banning most abortions around six weeks of pregnancy.
The law goes into effect immediately.
“This is a great day for life in South Carolina, but the fight is not over. We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed,” Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.
Abortion is severely restricted in much of the South, including bans throughout pregnancy in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. In Georgia, it’s allowed only in the first six weeks.
There are pending bans at varying stages of pregnancy in North Carolina and Florida — states that had been holdouts providing wider access to the procedure.
Most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy will be banned in North Carolina beginning July 1 and a six-week ban in Florida will take effect only if the state’s current 15-week ban is upheld by the state Supreme Court.
South Carolina had also proven to be a key destination for people seeking abortions. Provisional state Health Department data showed larger numbers of out-of-state patients after the state's highest court overturned previous restrictions and left abortion legal through 22 weeks.
The tide of state-level activity has been welcomed by anti-abortion groups who had long chipped away at access. Caitlin Connors, the southern regional director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, celebrated the recent legislative changes as victories made possible by last summer’s ruling.
“We are officially in an era where states who have tried to pass pro-life legislation — laws that would protect unborn children, laws that would also implement services for moms and families and babies — to finally be able to be enacted and not be under the chokehold of the Roe v. Wade decision,” Connors said.
This report contains material from The Associated Press.
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