How far to travel from SC for an abortion if state bans it

With the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, women in South Carolina might soon need to travel hundreds of miles more for an abortion, a recent study shows.

The US Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, overturned Roe v Wade — the 1973 landmark decision that granted a right to abortion. The decision comes more than a month after a draft opinion was leaked.

According to a study published in the reproductive health journal Contraception, many states like South Carolina are at high risk of banning abortion with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, meaning many women in those states would need to travel much farther to find a clinic.

The study shows that a woman in South Carolina would need to travel an average of 267 miles to reach the nearest abortion clinic if the state bans or severe limits the procedure. That’s far more than the average 30 miles a woman in South Carolina currently needs to travel to reach the existing three clinics in the state, the study adds.

The study, published in July 2019 and updated in 2021 by Caitlin Myers, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, analyzed states’ current laws and political climate to identify which ones would be at a high risk of outlawing abortion.

The study used a “national database of abortion facilities to calculate travel distances from the population centroids of United States counties to the nearest publicly-identifiable abortion facility.”

Researchers then estimated those travel distances under two hypothetical post-Roe scenarios. In the first, abortion becomes illegal in eight states with preemptive “trigger bans,” which would automatically outlaw abortion if Roe v Wade were overturned. In the second, abortion becomes illegal in an additional 13 states classified as at high risk of outlawing abortions under most circumstances.

Like the study, the Center for Reproductive Rights — a self-described global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates for reproductive rights — agrees that South Carolina would likely ban abortion if it had the chance, given the restrictions the state has already passed. The organization lists South Carolina one of more than two dozen states as “hostile” toward abortion rights.

South Carolina doesn’t have a trigger ban, but it currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks and also has various other restrictions.

State law has remained fairly consistent, despite debates over changes and a law passed recently that would ban after six weeks. The law was put on hold pending a US Supreme Court ruling.

This story was originally published June 24, 2022 10:43 AM.

Patrick McCreless is the service journalism editor for The State, where he and a team of reporters write about trending news of the day and topics that help readers in their daily lives and better informs them about their communities. He attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama and grew up in Tuscaloosa, AL.

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