SOUTH CAROLINA,(WSAV) — The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has had wide ranging effects across the nation.
In South Carolina, a law already on the books can now be enforced. The question remains for many, who is enforcing the law and who can be prosecuted?
The fetal heartbeat law has been on the books in the Palmetto State since last year.
“What we are doing here today is recognized repeatedly in our founding documents and have stood the test of time,” said Gov. Henry McMaster as he signed the bill in February 2021.
It allows the state of South Carolina to ban abortions after an ultrasound detects a baby’s heartbeat in the womb, which is around six weeks into pregnancy.
But it was only when Roe v. Wade was overturned did it become law and that means it can be enforced.
But who pay the price? Not the woman looking to get the abortion. The statute says that a pregnant woman on whom an abortion is performed may “not” be criminally prosecuted, and is not subject to any criminal or civil penalty.
While the procedure is illegal there is a provision that allows the abortions in the case of rape or incest.
Then it falls on the doctor who performs the procedure to report the crime to law enforcement within 24 hours. The report must include the name and personal information of the victim.
When it comes to actually enforcing the law legally, a spokesman for the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office told News 3: “The law doesn’t spell out exactly how the law is to be enforced, but typically local law enforcement would handle any arrests and local solicitors would prosecute.”
So far no known arrests or prosecutions have been made statewide, according to the AG’s office.
Several clinics in the state, including Planned Parenthood in Charleston and Columbia have said they will provide abortions “in compliance with the law”.
“You are not going to stop it,” said Rep. Shedron Williams, (D)-Hampton. “You are not going to stop abortions. Just by placing something on paper means its not going to stop. You are going to have doctors that are still going to perform and they will pay the $10,000 fine.”
News 3 asked the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office about their roles in enforcement of the fetal heartbeat law.
The Solicitor’s office says it is still analyzing the issue and waiting for guidance from the Attorney General’s Office, or to see if there is a case in the circuit.
The Sheriff’s office has not given an answer yet on how they plan to deal with the first case statewide, or if it happens here.