COLUMBIA, S.C. (CNS) — The number of abortions occurring annually in South Carolina continues to fall, a trend welcomed by advocates who credit pro-life legislation and increased public awareness for the decline.
According to a report released in late June by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 466 fewer abortions occurred in the state in 2018 compared to the number in 2017. This was the lowest number of abortions since 1975, according to the state health agency’s statistics.
During 2018, 4,646 abortions were reported by the state’s three existing clinics as well as hospitals. The number peaked in 1988 when 14,133 abortions were performed.
According to the report, the majority of all abortions in the state occurred between the sixth and 13th weeks of pregnancy. Eleven reported abortions occurred between 14 and 19 weeks, and six between 20 and 23 weeks.
Holly Gatling, executive director of S.C. Citizens for Life Columbia, said declining abortion numbers in South Carolina are the product of three factors: an ongoing push for pro-life legislation, the dedicated work of pregnancy care centers around the state, and more people becoming educated about pro-life issues.
“We’re seeing an increase in engagement by the public when it comes to abortion,” Gatling said. “They get involved when they receive the correct information about the extreme nature of laws like the one passed recently in New York, and other laws around the nation that basically allow abortion at any time for any reason.”
In January, New York passed legislation that expanded access to late-term abortions and removed related criminal penalties. It is one of several states that have passed similar laws.
On the flip side, South Carolina is among more than a dozen states that have passed legislation or have bills pending that restrict access to abortion. In April, the state House of Representatives passed H. 3020, dubbed the “Heartbeat Bill” by supporters. The measure makes it illegal for an abortion to be performed after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs between the fifth and eighth weeks of pregnancy.
The bill contains exceptions for rape and incest, medical emergencies, risk to the mother’s life or risk of physical impairment of the mother. The bill faces an uphill battle in the state Senate, where it will not be addressed until January 2020.
Gatling said the pro-life cause receives attention from annual events such as Life Chain and the March for Life. Charleston also hosted the National Right to Life Convention in July, which attracted about 500 people from around the country.
Dedicated volunteers also hold regular prayer vigils at clinics.
Stephen Boyle, respect life coordinator at St. Joseph Church in Charleston, is one of the prayer effort’s main organizers and regularly attends the vigils. Boyle believes a combination of public awareness and prayer has led to a decline in abortions statewide, and said the addition of pro-life sidewalk counselors in recent years has been a blessing for the effort in Charleston.
“These counselors know how to talk to the women and men coming to the clinic seeking abortions, and they bring an atmosphere of gentleness while sharing information about alternatives to abortion,” Boyle told The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston. “Our presence at the clinics, plus regular public events like 40 Days for Life, makes people think about this issue.”
Knauss is a reporter at The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: New Pax Christi leaders believe nonviolence education can change world
NEXT: County board OKs Tucson Diocese’s use of facility for asylum-seekers
Share this story