Rallies held in downtown Charleston, Columbia after Roe v. Wade gets overturned
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A large crowd is downtown in Charleston to rally against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The court’s decision on Friday strips away the nation’s constitutional protections for abortion that had stood for nearly a half-century.
The demonstration, organized by Bans Off Our Bodies, started just outside Charleston City Hall Friday afternoon.
People have been chanting my body my choice and no justice no peace and holding signs that say “Not your uterus, not your opinion.”
Carolina Graham, who is participating in the rally, says she cried when she heard the court’s decision.
“I was out here a month ago, right across the street actually, for another protest from when they leaked this information, and I hoped it wouldn’t be true, and I just hope for change, and I hope that hopefully what we’re doing out here makes a difference and what we’re doing around the United States,” Graham said.
Representatives from Planned Parenthood are also at the rally as well as Joe Cunningham, the Democratic nominee for governor. Cunningham says he would veto the state’s heartbeat bill that Gov. Henry McMaster called for if he is elected.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, McMaster said he would “file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect.”
As written, the bill was said to prevent most abortions in the state. It would block doctors from performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which normally happens as early as about six weeks into a pregnancy. Doctors or healthcare providers who perform an abortion in violation of the law could face a felony charge with a $10,000 fine, two years in jail, or both.
This rally is expected to go into the night.
Meanwhile, a separate pro-life rally is being held a block or two away at the Four Corners of Law.
Demonstrators have been singing things like ‘God bless America’, and one woman has a sign that reads “I regret my abortion.”
People at the pro-life rally said Roe v. Wade being overturned is a positive step for democracy.
“We’re just celebrating that we have bold, courageous justices who can stand up for freedom and democracy and read and interpret the Constitution as written, rally attendee Elizabeth Wills said.
Denise Kroniger, who was also at the rally, says their fight is not over.
“We’re here to pray and to celebrate a little bit, but abortion is not going anywhere,” Kroniger said. “I believe the general assembly needs to do something in Columbia. We have that heartbeat bill that is in enjoined, so I don’t think that can go into effect yet.”
Some chats briefly started between both the pro-life and pro-choice rallies. Police are on all corners monitoring the crowds.
In Columbia, hundreds of demonstrators were seen right outside the statehouse at a rally organized by Planned Parenthood Friday night.
Many of them said at the end of the day, this is about rights.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says take away rights, it’s to give rights,” Joann Sheler, who demonstrated at the statehouse, said. “That’s what we do, we give rights to people. We don’t take it away no matter what. They’re human. No matter if they have a different lifestyle or if they don’t think like I think.”
Organizers with Planned Parenthood say they organized the rally to give people an opportunity to get together, talk to each other and express their opinions.
South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeart Act
In February 2021, McMaster signed the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act into law. That same day, three abortion providers, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, the Greenville Women’s Clinic and Terry Buffkin MD filed a lawsuit challenging the law.
A federal district court in South Carolina immediately issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law.
Then in March 2021, U.S. District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis filed an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced while the litigation continued.
The law has continued to be tied up in the court system with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upholding the preliminary ruling from the lower court in Feb. 2022.
In March, McMaster called on the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision to uphold the injunction.
On Friday, McMaster said he would “file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect.”
As written, the bill was said to prevent most abortions in the state. It would block doctors from performing an abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which normally happens as early as about six weeks into a pregnancy. Doctors or healthcare providers who perform an abortion in violation of the law could face a felony charge with a $10,000 fine, two years in jail or both.
Critics of the measure argued that six weeks is about the time some women learn they are pregnant.
The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies and threats to the health of the mother. The bill also stipulates that doctors must give the sheriff the patient’s contact info within 24 hours if an abortion is performed on a woman who was pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
The South Carolina State legislature is planning to hold a special session to discuss more regulations this year.
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