South Carolina Abortion Laws
Abortion is legal until a fetal heartbeat has been detected (typically at 6 weeks), with exceptions for rape or incest during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, medical emergencies, or fatal fetal anomalies.
Few topics are as controversial as abortion. Many people hold strong beliefs on both the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the argument. If you or a sexual partner are considering abortion in South Carolina, it’s important to understand the law.
In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which returned to the states the power to regulate, even prohibit, abortion. On January 5, 2023, the South Carolina Supreme Court held that abortion is protected, subject to some limits, under the South Carolina Constitution.
On May 25, 2023, Governor Henry McMaster signed a fetal heartbeat bill, which allows abortion through the first six weeks of pregnancy. Thereafter, abortion is permitted only in cases of rape or incest during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, medical emergencies, and in cases of fetal anomaly. On August 23, 2023, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the law.
The following table outlines the abortion laws you need to know in South Carolina.
|Code Section||South Carolina Code Title 44: Health, Chapter 41, Article 6|
|Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion||Abortion is legal until a fetal heartbeat has been detected (typically at 6 weeks), with exceptions for rape or incest during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, medical emergencies, or fatal fetal anomalies.|
|Penalty for Unlawful Abortion||
A person who intentionally performs an illegal abortion is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined ten thousand dollars, imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.
|Woman's Right to Know and Consent||
The woman must be informed of the probable gestational age of the embryo or fetus at the time the abortion is to be performed. If an ultrasound is performed, an abortion may not be performed sooner than 60 minutes following completion of the ultrasound. The physician who is to perform the abortion must inform the woman before the ultrasound procedure of her right to view the ultrasound image at her request during or after the ultrasound procedure.
Parental notification with judicial bypass procedure: If abortion is denied and the father is identified, he will be ordered to share in the costs of delivery and raising the child. The state may pay for counseling, prenatal care, delivery, and post-natal care.
|Counseling and Waiting Period||Women are required to receive state-directed counseling with information designed to discourage abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure can be performed.|
|Penalty for Counseling and Waiting Period Violations||A doctor who knows or should know the counseling or waiting period requirements haven’t been complied with is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be fined not more than $1,000 for a first or second offense. For a third or subsequent offense, the doctor can be fined not more than $5,000 and be imprisoned not more than three years.|
If you need assistance in connection with abortion in South Carolina, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina health care attorney.
Note: As you may know, state laws change regularly. Therefore, you should conduct your own legal research to confirm any state laws you’re reviewing.
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