Editor's note: the laws around abortion are changing frequently. Be sure to check with your health care provider and local laws to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe v. Wade. The ruling in this landmark decision decriminalized abortion and made it a federal right to gain accessible abortions within the country. In turn, this allowed many patients to access reproductive healthcare freely without fear of being criminalized.
Throughout the next 50 years, some state governments proposed bans and limitations against abortion in order to eliminate access in their respective areas, while other states celebrated and embraced the new ruling. Conversations around abortion have long been hot-button topics, with many debates and discourse around whether a person was Pro-Life (anti-abortion rights) or Pro-Choice (pro-abortion rights). However, the fact remained that Roe v. Wade solidified the right to legal and safe abortion access—regardless of public opinion.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned it.
The decision no longer made abortion a federally protected right, therefore giving the power to individual states to decide if they wanted to make abortion legal. This set off a chaotic legal ripple effect of trigger laws in various states that were strongly against abortion. Those laws were proposed with the intent of completely banning abortion, criminalizing the practice in their area. These bans varied in how much time it would take for them to be enacted. Some required thirty days; others an established step-by-step process. South Carolina was one of those states.
It has now been about nine months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and in South Carolina alone, there has been much chaos surrounding the legality of abortions. In the past few months, SC legislature has continuously introduced new bans only for them to follow an exhaustive cycle of being debated and ultimately shot down.
Tensions have been exacerbated with the time that has passed since the June 24, 2022 ruling and the ensuing chaos within SC Legislature, paired with the media's unpredictable cycle of coverage. I reached out to three different students on USC’s campus to gain their perspectives on the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
For privacy and safety purposes, the names and identities of the students have been kept confidential.
How did you hear about the overturning of Roe v. Wade?
Student 1: Instagram. The New York Times’ post of it was the first thing on my feed. I felt my heart drop.
Student 2: Like two days later on Twitter. I felt kind of bad that I didn’t know about it sooner, but I don’t really watch the news that much. It’s always sad when I hear about stuff, and I mean, I proved myself right.
Student 3: TikTok, can you believe that? One minute I’m learning how dumplings are made, and the next I find out my rights are getting taken away.
What were your initial reactions to the news? What did you do?
Student 1: I cried. Just absolutely sobbed. What else am I supposed to do? I felt like throwing up, to be honest. Seeing all the protests and chaos and stuff made me feel even worse. I was like, “How did this happen?”
Student 2: I felt confused at first. I don’t really get into politics like that, and I didn’t really know what it meant. Like, I did, but I didn’t know the extent of what it meant. I was like, “Is abortion illegal now? Is it legal? What’s happening?”
Student 3: I was angry, like wow. I wasn’t in shock though, I sort of knew this was coming at some point. With our current Supreme Court, I was not surprised at all. But I was infuriated. How are you going to put so many people’s lives in danger like that and still sleep at night?
What reactions did you see from the people around you?
Student 1: Pretty much all of my friends were upset. We all live in southern states so you know, we were kind of dreading what was to come. My family didn’t really have a reaction, I think they were just sad that I was sad. That actually kind of bothered me a little bit. This decision is going to impact me forever.
Student 2: A couple of my friends talked about it, and I talked about it with my parents. But other than that, most of the people I talked to either didn’t know it happened or didn’t really care, I guess? I think it should be something everybody cares about, but a lot of people don’t really like sad stuff so I understand why not many people talked about it.
Student 3: I honestly think we were all just ranting together. My friends and I. We were all so angry and didn’t know what was about to happen. There was so much uncertainty, and that in itself infuriated us. Also, my partner at the time didn’t show any support or even tried to educate themself, so that made me even more angry. We’re broken up now so I feel like I can say that.
It’s been about 9 months since the overturning happened. How do you feel now?
Student 1: I try to ignore it, to be real with you. Obviously, I try to stay aware, but I just get so worked up when I doomscroll about it, so it’s not really good for my mental health to focus on it.
Student 2: I don’t think of it often. Like I said, I don’t really get into politics or anything, so it’s not like it comes up on my feed on the daily.
Student 3: I’ve become really involved in my community with trying to educate others, and I donate to a few local abortion rights organizations. I felt helpless when I first heard that Roe v. Wade was overturned, but falling into that “helpless hole” I guess makes me feel really bad. So, I try not to feel like that often.
What reactions/actions do you see on campus?
Student 1: Not a whole lot of actions. I think conversations around abortions are really stigmatized here, so everyone is either super against it or really afraid to talk about it. I’ll speak for myself, I talk about it openly with my friends and all, but I’d feel uncomfortable trying to spark that conversation with anyone else.
Student 2: Nothing really. I feel like everyone has sort of moved past it.
Student 3: Well, the people I surround myself with are really into activism, so I mean, I see people get really involved with trying to talk about abortion rights in South Carolina. It’s not technically on campus, but I’ve seen a lot of students protesting at the State House too, so that’s nice.
Do you think more awareness needs to spread on the legality of abortion in SC and on campus?
Student 1: For sure. I’ll tell you right now, I have questioned if abortion is still legal in this state many times. It’d be cool if there were initiatives on campus that helped educate people more.
Student 2: I’d say yes. The news got really all over the place when it happened, and I think people still don’t know what’s legal and what’s not. I mean, I don’t.
Student 3: Absolutely. As a PSA, abortion is still legal here. There’s limitations I’m pretty sure, but it’s still legal. A lot of people don’t know that, and so they get even more fearful and that increases the risk of people doing really dangerous stuff, so awareness is definitely needed.
How do you view the Post-Roe generation in SC?
Student 1: This is probably going to be really sad but… I know what state we live in. I’ve lived here my whole life, I feel like I know how this ends, and I don’t think we’re going to have protection like Roe v. Wade again.
Student 2: I think if our government can get it’s [redacted] together and abortion can be a solid right again, the “Post-Roe” generation will be fine. I don’t know how that’ll happen, but I hope it’ll happen.
Student 3: Hope is all I have at this point for a Post-Roe generation. I’m always angry, I’m always sad, but I’m educated, and I think that’s what matters, and I hope other people see that. There’s going to be more bans introduced in SC since it’s not a federal right anymore, but I mean, we’ve got little victories. A near-total abortion ban in the state was shot down a couple weeks ago, so that’s good. The fight never stops, you know? I just have hope.
As of right now, abortions can be legally performed up to 22 weeks gestation in South Carolina.