How abortion reporting requirement works in South Carolina

In cases of rape and incest, new law requires the abortion provider to report those allegations to the sheriff’s office where the abortion was performed.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:19 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - While most abortions in South Carolina are now prohibited after around six weeks, the state’s new law does allow more time for sexual assault survivors.

But the law also requires patients who seek abortions for this reason to have their names and contact information reported to law enforcement.

In cases of rape and incest, the new law requires the abortion provider to report those allegations to the sheriff’s office in the county where the abortion was performed – within 24 hours of the procedure.

“If we’re going to try to deter those crimes, if we’re going to try to punish those crimes and to hold the criminals accountable, then law enforcement needs the evidence in order to pursue those things,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield.

But Sara Barber of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault said: “It’s not giving them the choice of who and when their experience is disclosed to.”

Three clinics in South Carolina provide abortions – in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston.

That means it’s up to the sheriffs in Greenville, Richland and Charleston counties to determine what they do when they receive these reports.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano is the state’s only female sheriff.

Her department says it has resumed receiving these reports – as it did last year, under the state’s previous abortion law.

And like it did under that law, the agency says it will follow victims’ wishes on whether they want to pursue the investigation further or not.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department encourages all crime victims to report them – saying it will continue to investigate sexual assault cases with the utmost care and concern for the dignity of victims.

The agency also noted it, too, would not pursue these investigations further if the survivor did not want that.

And in Greenville County, authorities say they’ll handle these cases with the same standard procedures they use for all criminal complaints – conducting them in a thorough and timely manner.

The limited exception in this law for sexual assault survivors permits them to obtain abortions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

That’s a shorter timeframe than under the state’s previous “fetal heartbeat law” – the one the state Supreme Court overturned earlier this year – which allowed them 20 weeks.