SC Gov. McMaster, state leaders, candidates react to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Lawmakers and leaders across South Carolina reacted to Friday’s decision from the United States Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a resounding victory for the Constitution and for those who have worked for so many years to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. “By the end of the day, we will file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect in South Carolina and immediately begin working with members of the General Assembly to determine the best solution for protecting the lives of unborn South Carolinians.”
In a statement, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Cunningham called the decision a “dark day in American history.”
“The four walls of a doctor’s office simply aren’t big enough for a woman, her partner, her doctor, and the government. But the government has decided to force themselves in anyway,” Cunningham said. “Governor McMaster and radical politicians in Columbia have already pledged to ban all abortions in South Carolina with no exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. The only thing standing in the way of this draconian reality is my veto pen. As governor, I won’t hesitate to use that pen to stand up for women and their right to control their own bodies.”
State Attorney General Alan Wilson, in a statement, thanked the Supreme Court for “returning decision-making power to the people of each state.”
“I want to thank the Supreme Court for returning decision-making power to the people of each state. For almost 50 years, our country’s abortion policy was controlled by nine unelected judges. I have always thought Roe v. Wade was bad policy, was wrongly decided, and not supported by the Constitution,” Wilson’s statement read. “However, it’s important to remember that this ruling does not outlaw abortion nationwide, it simply allows the people of each state to decide. This office will continue to defend any law the General Assembly enacts in response to this decision. This ruling is a victory for life, the rule of law, and local decision-making. Human life is the most precious thing we have and our Founders sought to protect life, not destroy it.”
National lawmakers and candidates from South Carolina
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.-01) took to Twitter to praise the decision for returning the decision making to a state level:
“Today’s ruling returns power back to the states and power back to Congress on policies pertaining to life, where it rightfully belongs,” Mace said. “This ruling protects federalism inherent in our Constitution and also returns this power(sic) back to the ppl and those they elected to represent them.”
Mace went on to note the ruling “does not outlaw abortion” but “puts the decision with legislators, particularly state legislators, but also Congress.”
Mace’s opponent in November’s general election, Democrat Dr. Annie Andrews said, in a statement, she was “devastated and infuriated” with the decision:
“As a mother of two daughters, I am devastated and infuriated that they are now poised to grow up with fewer rights than my mother had,” Andrews said. “This is exactly what Nancy Mace’s Republican extremist party has spent decades fighting to accomplish. It is more important than ever to vote them out, NOW. With this ruling, it is now up to Congress to codify abortion rights into law. Even though I am running against a woman, make no mistake, I am the only woman in this race who will fight for Lowcountry women to make their own reproductive decisions without interference from extremist politicians.”
U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D- SC06) released the following statement in response to the ruling:
“Today’s Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling further establishes the right-wing Republican justices’ radical disregard for individual rights and settled precedent. Politicians have been given veto power over women’s reproductive rights. As a result, 36 million women, who reside in the 26 states who have already passed restrictive laws or are poised to, will be prohibited from having an abortion or they will be forced to travel hundreds of miles at great expense to receive safe, medically appropriate care, likely resulting in increased complications and worsened health outcomes. And, Mitch McConnell has stated that a nationwide ban is ‘possible’ if Republicans gain control of Congress and the presidency. The criminalization of this long-held fundamental right imposes another layer of institutionalized discrimination on women, especially those with low incomes and women of color.
“House Democrats will continue our efforts to keep the government out of medical decisions made by women and their doctors, like our recent House passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act. We must also be prepared to defend other established rights—including rights to contraception, interracial marriage, marriage equality, and intimate acts between consenting adults. Under this Supreme Court, no right can be taken for granted.
“Today’s egregious decision reinforces the saying that ‘the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.’ A majority of Americans disagree with the Court’s position, and the power they possess will be demonstrated at the ballot box this November.”
South Carolina’s senators also weighed in on Friday’s decision.
A statement from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reads:
“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court is a long overdue constitutional correction allowing for elected officials in the states to decide issues of life.
“Roe was Constitutionally unsound from its inception as the flawed legal theory behind the decision gives unlimited power to five unelected Supreme Court justices. I believe it was one of the largest power grabs in the history of the Supreme Court. Under the Roe theory, almost anything could be a constitutional right depending on the views of five justices on substantive due process.
“The issue of life will now be decided by elected officials in the states, the same way the issue was handled until 1973. Simply stated, this decision represents a constitutional reset.
“Finally, all these decades of toiling in the vineyards fighting for conservative judges has paid off. I am glad to have done my part in this cause. I also appreciate President Trump’s leadership in nominating conservative justices.
“On this historic day, I cannot help but think of dear old friends like former Congressman Henry Hyde. He and many others worked so hard to protect the unborn, and today their dream came true.”
Sen. Tim Scott also praised the decision for “returning the power back to the people and the states, where it belongs:”
“Today, the Supreme Court took an important step to protect the God-given right to life for millions of Americans by returning the power back to the people and the states, where it belongs,” Scott said. “A nation in which abortion is the ‘first and best’ answer for moms in challenging circumstances is a nation that has sacrificed its moral clarity and courage. America’s fundamental promises include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our support for babies and their mothers re-establishes those shared values that began to erode over the last several decades.
“Furthermore, I commend the Justices for their courage in the face of unprecedented threats and violence. Their commitment to the Constitution and refusal to bend to intimidation gives me hope for the future of our nation.”
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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