Roe v. Wade overturned: York County political, religious leaders react to Supreme Court ruling

·4 min read

The York Baptist Association reacted just minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal right to abortion.

“Let there be rejoicing in the streets,” the association said in a Facebook post. “Praise God for this victory.”

The group represents almost 80 churches and missions with more than 10,000 members in the South Carolina Upstate in York County.

Mike Wallace, director of missions for the York Baptist Association, said Friday the association and its member churches praise the decision that supports life.

“We support life from the womb to the tomb,” Wallace said.

The reaction from the York Baptist Association was one of several from local leaders and organizations Friday. York County Republicans in the S.C. General Assembly vowed to push for swift action to move on abortion laws that would be more restrictive. Democratic Party leaders in state and local government, and the county Democratic Party, were on the other side of the issue and said the ruling is an impediment to women’s health care and privacy.

What the ruling means in SC

South Carolina and states across the country now have the legal right to ban abortion outright for the first time in five decades, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling. The ruling sends abortion-rights debates back to the states, where South Carolina Republicans have been preparing to pass more restrictive abortion legislation in a State House special session for sometime after July 1, The State newspaper in Columbia reported.

York County’s top Republican, state House Rep. Tommy Pope, said South Carolina is poised to do just that.

S.C. Rep. Tommy Pope, R.-York, works during a session of the South Carolina House of Representatives on March 24, 2021.
S.C. Rep. Tommy Pope, R.-York, works during a session of the South Carolina House of Representatives on March 24, 2021.

A fetal heartbeat bill that passed the S.C. General Assembly earlier this year has been held up by a federal lawsuit, but the U.S Supreme Court ruling could mean quick action by South Carolina lawmakers as early as next month, Pope said.

“This year the Legislature made great strides in protecting the life of the unborn by passing into law the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act — also called the Fetal Heartbeat Act,” Pope told The Herald Friday. “Unfortunately opponents have kept the enforcement of the bill tied up in the Courts. Hopefully the US Supreme Court’s decision today in Dobbs will free up that law to be put into effect here in South Carolina. “

It remains unclear if the Fetal Heartbeat Act will require further legislative action or when it could take effect. Pope said the House previously formed a bipartisan committee “to explore what further steps we may take to protect the unborn.”

“We should return to session sometime in the coming months to consider the committee’s findings and act accordingly,” he said.

Republicans hold a large majority on both the South Carolina House of Representatives and in the South Carolina Senate. The governor, Henry McMaster, is a Republican who backs the Fetal Heartbeat Act.

S.C. Rep. Bruce Bryant, R-York, said the Supreme Court’s decision allows the people of South Carolina to now consider what is right for the state.

“I am so happy that we finally have a Supreme Court that has the courage to address the constitutional issues that are so important to the majority of our nation, Bryant said in a statement to The Herald. “Now is the time that our state General Assembly decides how we are going to address abortion in our state.”

Abortion-rights advocates: Sad day for US and SC

South Carolina Democrats voiced displeasure about the U.S. Supreme Court decision, saying it takes away women’s rights to make health care decisions for themselves.

S.C. Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, is one of just two Democrats in York County’s legislative delegation. King said he’s not for abortion, but he supports the right to choose.

John King D-York speaks with House colleagues at the South Carolina State House on January 11, 2022.
John King D-York speaks with House colleagues at the South Carolina State House on January 11, 2022.

“This is a sad day for South Carolina,” King told The Herald. “I am personally not for abortion, but I am for women to be able to make decisions about their health and what is best for them with their doctors and with respect to their religious faith.”

William “Bump” Roddey, the sole Democrat on York County Council and a two-time candidate for Rock Hill mayor, said “a woman should have a right to choose what’s best for her, her health and her family.”

“There are no laws here in America that governs or restrict men or our health choices,” Roddey said. “I’m Pro Choice! I hope those who still wish to have a choice don’t result to using unsafe methods of dealing with their personal health choices.”

In a statement, the York County Democratic Party called the decision an assault on privacy and vowed to continue to fight for women’s health rights. Abortion is a woman’s health care choice, York County Democrats said in the statement.

“Today is a sad day in the history of our county and a sober reminder that the struggle for human rights is far from over,” the statement said.