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Abortion Rights Upheld in S.C., Threatened in Virginia

U.S. District Judge William Traxler struck down South Carolina’s abortion clinic regulations on Friday, arguing that the laws “unduly burden[ed] a woman’s fundamental right to undergo an abortion.”

The regulations were originally passed in 1996 but had been blocked from enforcement pending lawsuits filed by three abortion providers. The regulations applied to all clinics performing five or more abortions a month. Abortion rights advocates charged that many clinics would not have been able to afford the changes necessary to meet the regulations and would have been forced to close.

“This is a great day for the women in South Carolina,” said Charleston Women’s Medical Clinic Director Lorraine Maguire. “The court recognized that the state should not interfere in personal, private reproductive health care decisions.

Meanwhile, abortion rights were threatened in Virginia when a Virginia House of Delegates committee approved a bill that would require women to wait 24-hours before receiving an abortion and would “expand the type of information a woman must be provided before giving ‘informed consent’ to an abortion.”

This restriction would impose undue difficulties on poor and rural women, who may not be able to afford the additional time off from work and travel required to fulfill the waiting period. Existing law requires doctors to give a detailed explanation of the abortion procedure and its risks. Under the new bill, abortion providers would be required to tell women the estimated gestational age of the fetus, the risks of carrying the pregnancy to terms and the risks of an abortion.

A similar bill was passed last year and later defeated in the Senate Education and Health Committee.

Sources:

Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation - February 7 and 5, 1999