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What overturning Roe v. Wade means for people in the Carolinas

CHARLOTTE — Supreme Court justices have issued their decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning Roe v. Wade. The high court has decided that a 2018 Mississippi state law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional.

The ruling now allows states to ban abortions.

A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices, leaked in a Politico report in May, suggested the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide could be overturned.

“It was drafted and circulated. The draft says in February of this year, and who knows exactly how the final opinion will look,” Elon Law Professor Tom Molony said in May.

The reversal of Roe v. Wade lets individual states more heavily regulate or ban the procedure.

Neither North Carolina or South Carolina have “trigger laws” that would immediately ban abortion, but access could change significantly.

Now that the responsibility has shifted to states, here are the current abortion laws in the Carolinas:

North Carolina

Abortion is legal under North Carolina state law, but restrictions exist on the service.

State law requires a person seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound and an informative consultation from a medical professional at least 72 hours before the procedure.

Minors must receive permission from a parent or guardian before undergoing the procedure.

Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

It’s possible abortion could be restricted in the state after 20 weeks.

There is a law that has been on the books in North Carolina that calls for the limitation, but it has never been allowed to go into effect. Exceptions would exist for if the pregnancy would threaten the woman’s life or “gravely impair” her health.

How fast the change could happen is unclear.

Governor Roy Cooper is a supporter of abortion rights and the Republicans in the state legislature do not have a supermajority. That means through at least the rest of the year, additional abortion restrictions are not going to pass.

Cooper issued the following statement in response to the decision Friday:

“For 50 years, women have relied on their constitutional right to make their own medical decisions, but today that right has been tragically ripped away. That means it’s now up to the states to determine whether women get reproductive health care, and in North Carolina they still can. I will continue to trust women to make their own medical decisions as we fight to keep politicians out of the doctor’s exam room.”

All state lawmakers are on the ballot this November, so abortion access could look significantly different in 2023.

It is also possible North Carolina may see more out-of-state patients seeking abortion services if other southern states enact more restrictive laws.

“I think that if this drags on to November, and the abortion ban does go into effect, this will be a major issue in North Carolina,” said political expert Dr. Terza Lima-Neves.

South Carolina

Abortions in South Carolina are legal under state law, but must meet a specific set of circumstances.

State law requires a person seeking an abortion receive to an ultrasound and an informative consultation from a medical professional at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The latest an abortion can be performed is 20 weeks into the pregnancy, except in cases of life endangerment or other extreme health issues.

Minors must receive permission from a parent or guardian before undergoing the procedure.

Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned in South Carolina

In 2021, Gov. Henry McMaster signed an abortion ban after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

It would “require testing for a detectable fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed on a pregnant woman,” and it would “prohibit the performance of an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.”

The law makes exceptions in some cases where the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, and when there is a fetal anomaly or the abortion will prevent death or injury to a pregnant woman.

Rep. Tommy Pope said now the act will likely go into effect and that lawmakers could soon meet to talk about even more changes to abortion law, something he said he doesn’t take lightly.

“We’re gonna deal with weighty issues and it’s important for me to balance between personal beliefs, constituent beliefs, and other things other than just who has the loudest voice,” Pope said.

McMaster issued the following statement in response to the decision Friday:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a resounding victory for the Constitution and for those who have worked for so many years to protect the lives of the most vulnerable among us. By the end of the day, we will file motions so that the Fetal Heartbeat Act will go into effect in South Carolina and immediately begin working with members of the General Assembly to determine the best solution for protecting the lives of unborn South Carolinians.”

Like other abortion legislation, the law was blocked in court and is on hold right now.

Similar to North Carolina, it remains to be seen if this would take effect right away now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

(WATCH BELOW: What You Need to Know - Roe V. Wade)

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