Three pictures on the wall at the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network office. Photo by Kaylie Pomichalek
Organizations working to protect abortion access in South Carolina have a continued fight ahead of them as legislators rework the bill that would prohibit almost all abortions.
The House is scheduled to take up the bill again Sept. 27 before it would move to the Senate.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and South Carolina’s Women’s Rights Empowerment Network are two organizations lobbying to protect reproductive rights.
The state chapter of the gynecologist group published an open letter in The State newspaper on Sunday that urged lawmakers to strike down any legislation that would limit abortion access. It was signed by hundreds of medical professionals and students in South Carolina.
“We want to make sure that our patients have access to evidence-based medical care,” said Dr. Dawn Bingham, the South Carolina vice and legislative chair for the organization. “We know that having those choices is very important for our patients.”
The S.C. gynecologist group is one of several to write an open letter. And the national group, along with 76 other medical organizations, released a statement in July supporting access to all reproductive care.
“We find it very important that our patients recognize that it’s not just OBGYNs that are supporting them. It is all of their physicians,” Bingham said.
But the work doesn’t just have to be done by big organizations, the organizations say. WREN encourages people to educate themselves and voice their opinions to lawmakers.
Ashley Lidow, WREN’s director of policy and government relations, provides information on the different legislative processes to “demystify” them and make them more accessible.
WREN also provides support for people on big legislative days to encourage them to come out to the State House.
“We make sure we always have water, we try to make sure we always have food,” Lidow said. “We try to have care spaces because … most of the conversations actually can be very harmful.”
And WREN partners with people across the state to help continue the spread of information and help host events.
The two organizations also work on the larger legislative scale.
WREN has created a bill of its own that would, if passed, remove all existing restrictions and codify the old rules of Roe v. Wade under state law. It also would affirm the right to contraception, in vitro fertilization, sex education and all reproductive care.
But that bill has a long way to go before it can be passed.
Bingham spoke before the Senate Medical Affairs Committee on Aug. 17. But first, she had a message for the women of South Carolina.
“You matter,” she said. “Your decisions matter. Your life matters.”