South Carolina woman arrested for allegedly using pills to end pregnancy | South Carolina


A woman in South Carolina has been arrested and charged for allegedly trying to induce her own abortion using medication.

The woman was reported by staff at a hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, after visiting a hospital in October 2021 with labor pains. Ultimately, she delivered a stillborn fetus at about 25 weeks and four days of pregnancy. In an incident report, staff claimed the woman had admitted to having taken abortion pills in an attempt to end her pregnancy.

The incident took place in 2021, before the constitutional right to abortion was overturned in June 2022. But a warrant was subsequently issued for the woman’s arrest in 2022, and she was arrested in February 2023, Sgt Jonathan Bragg, of the Greenville police department confirmed.

South Carolina is one of just three states, alongside Nevada and Oklahoma, that explicitly criminalizes self-managed abortion. The state was also the first to bring charges on behalf of a fetus successfully against a pregnant person. In 1997, Cornelia Whitner was found guilty for criminal child neglect, after taking crack cocaine during the third trimester of her pregnancy.

“It’s one of the states that really leads the country in pregnancy-related criminalization,” said Dana Sussman, of the non-profit Pregnancy Justice.

Broadly speaking, anti-abortion laws are written to exempt pregnant people from prosecution for seeking abortion care, though there are signs this is beginning to change, with some lawmakers recently introducing bills to bring charges against people who seek abortions.

“The rights and humanity of pregnant people have been at risk for some time, even before Dobbs – and now it’s just even more critical for us to be vigilant in defending the rights of pregnant people in a country that has decided that fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses deserve more protection than the pregnant people who have full constitutional rights,” said Sussman. “These types of [arrests], while quite rare, create a culture of fear and uncertainty that can have drastic ripple effects.”

Local abortion funds have also raised concern over the incident.

“We support and endorse folks accessing [safe] abortion care if that feels right for them. The salient point for us for this case is: was this person choosing to allegedly self-manage because they didn’t feel like they had access to different kinds of abortion care?” said a spokesperson for the Carolina Abortion fund, adding: “Criminalising pregnancy outcomes generally is very, very dangerous for everyone.”

After the constitutional right to abortion was overturned by the supreme court in 2022, a six-week abortion ban quickly came into effect in South Carolina, but was blocked by a court in August. Earlier this year, the state supreme court found the state’s ban unconstitutional, and lawmakers are currently in talks to pass a new one. Abortion currently remains legal in the state up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The Greenville police department confirmed that the woman was arrested and subsequently released the next day after making $2,500 bail. She awaits trial.

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