Keep South Carolina Politicians Out of My Abortion

A pro-abortion demonstrator outside the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. (Sean Rayford / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

Editor’s noteMedication abortion is legal, safe and available in all 50 states. The organization Plan C has a comprehensive guide to finding abortion pills on their website, which is continually updated and has all the latest information on where to find abortion pills from anywhere in the U.S. 

Five years ago, my abortion saved my life.

My birth control unexpectedly failed, and I was constantly sick, working a dangerous job, all while trying to finish my master’s degree and start a better life. I knew, especially after my own experience growing up in poverty, I was in no position to become a parent. I didn’t have paid time off, disability leave or family medical leave. If I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid, and while my partner had a job, it would be impossible for us to make ends meet if I took extended time off and we had another mouth to feed.

I had my partner drive us two hours away to a clinic, opted for a medication abortion and have never regretted my decision. I was fortunate to be able to find the resources and support necessary to make this decision for myself and access the care I needed. But now, out-of-touch politicians are on the verge of passing a new abortion ban that will push essential healthcare out of reach for most South Carolinians.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we’ve been living in a public health crisis where one in three American women have already lost the right to control their own bodies, and South Carolina could be next. We got a glimpse of that reality a few months ago when a previously blocked six-week abortion ban was temporarily allowed to take effect.

During that time, South Carolinians seeking abortion after six weeks were forced to travel hundreds of miles, doing whatever possible to cobble together the money for transportation, childcare and time off work to access this critical healthcare. And those who couldn’t were forced to either seek abortion outside the healthcare system or carry pregnancies they knew they wouldn’t survive or couldn’t afford against their will.

The South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily blocked that ban in August, but the legal fight continues in court this month.

Last week, state lawmakers also tried to double down on their cruelty by passing another ban. They failed to do so this time.

I will not feel safe in a state where I could be forced to carry a baby who won’t survive—or be forced to risk my own life.

The majority of South Carolinians want to keep abortion safe and legal. Recent polling shows that nearly 70 percent of us believe the decision should be left to a woman and her doctor—not state lawmakers. And nearly 60 percent of us believe our elected officials spend too much time focusing on abortion, and not enough time on legislation to support South Carolina families.

At the end of the day, abortion bans are not about health, families or babies. They are about control and maintaining power for a few. Banning abortion ensures that marginalized people do not have the time or resources to do anything other than fight for basic survival. It is all part of a strategy by extremists to strip us of our freedom, dignity and bodily autonomy.

I have no regrets about my abortion. In fact, I’m grateful for my abortion and the person it has allowed me to become. I am the first and only person in my family to obtain a college and graduate-level education and pull myself from abject poverty. No matter who we are or where we live, we all deserve to make these personal medical decisions for ourselves, free of barriers or political roadblocks put in place by people who never have been—and never will be—subject to those barriers.

But as my partner and I now feel ready for parenthood, we are terrified to start a family under this current political environment. We could soon be living in a state where life-saving healthcare is not available if something goes wrong. And I will not feel safe in a state where I could be forced to carry a baby who won’t survive—or be forced to risk my own life.

As a South Carolinian who had a life-saving abortion, I am urging our state representatives to listen to their constituents and stay out of our personal and private healthcare decisions—particularly in a state like ours with high infant and maternal mortality rates and a severe shortage of healthcare providers. Rather than strip us of our fundamental freedom, it’s time for politicians to expand healthcare access in South Carolina and trust people to do what’s best for our own lives, bodies and futures.

South Carolinians deserve better than out-of-touch lawmakers who would use us as political pawns for their own gain. I made the decision to have an abortion in consultation with my partner and my doctor. That’s the way it needs to stay—there’s no room for anyone else in the exam room, least of all South Carolina politicians.

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

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Claire, who identifies as non-binary, lives in South Carolina with their partner, two dogs, and two guinea pigs. They have dreams of one day starting a family of their own, but these dreams have been placed on hold under the looming threat of abortion restrictions. They are a firm believer in one's right to choose and believe that only the individual can make the decision that will be best for them.