Charleston Co. sheriff: Deputies to only contact women seeking abortion at their request

Sheriff Kristin Graziano addressed a stipulation in the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat...
Sheriff Kristin Graziano addressed a stipulation in the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat Protection From Abortion Act that requires medical personnel to notify law enforcement if a woman seeks an abortion because she was the victim of rape or incest.(Live 5)
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 11:22 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The sheriff of Charleston County released a statement on how her agency will handle reports of sexual assault under the state’s fetal heartbeat law.

Sheriff Kristin Graziano addressed a stipulation in the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat Protection From Abortion Act that requires medical personnel to notify law enforcement if a woman seeks an abortion because she was the victim of rape or incest.

Graziano released the following statement Friday morning:

The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has been in communication with health care providers to determine appropriate steps to comply with the six-week abortion ban. Legislators in Columbia have tasked sheriffs and their agencies to receive reports from providers of women who were impregnated by rape or incest and were seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

I want the public to know that while these providers are now mandated by law to send us these reports regardless of the will of their patients, we will not contact the patient if she doesn’t want us to. We will offer our support and investigative services only if they request it.

I know all too well the pain and heartache that comes from sexual assault, as a family member to a victim and as someone who has worked with them as a law enforcement officer. It is traumatizing, and my agency will do everything we can to offer care, solace and respect to these women who are seeking health care.

A federal judge lifted a block on the enforcement of the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat Protection From Abortion Act on Monday following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision last week. Roe provided nearly 50 years of abortion rights until the Supreme Court decision ruling sent the authority to allow or ban the procedure back to states.

South Carolina’s law bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomalies and threats to the health of the mother.

Under the law, doctors are required to give the sheriff’s office the contact information of a patient who was pregnant as a result of rape or incest within 24 hours of the procedure.

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