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This SC woman's work funding abortions could soon be illegal

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Deidre Griffin’s work could soon be illegal.

As the co-founder of the Palmetto State Abortion Fund, Griffin has been helping people in South Carolina access abortions since 2021. The fund, which is supported by individual donations, helps people pay for the cost of the procedure as well as transportation and lodging expenses.

Under a draft version of a bill in the South Carolina legislature, helping someone obtain an abortion — including providing them with information about how to get one — would be a crime that carries a maximum 25-year prison sentence. The bill, which is currently in the senate’s Medical Affairs Committee, refers to it as “aiding and abetting” an abortion. The measure would also ban nearly all abortions in the state.

“Personally… my attitude is, 'I don’t care what you say.' If someone needs help, I’m going to help them,” Griffin said, though she emphasized that’s her opinion, not that of the Palmetto State Abortion Fund.

The all-volunteer team at the abortion fund has been busy since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and, just days later, a South Carolina law banning abortions after roughly six weeks took effect. Griffin’s organization helped reschedule appointments at North Carolina clinics and paid for 31 abortions in July, she said.

“The inbox is going crazy,” Griffin said. “We also have a hotline. And it’s also word-of-mouth.”

Griffin knows the feeling of being trapped with an unwanted pregnancy — she’s had two abortions.

“I know what it’s like to be in a horrible situation and a pregnancy and a child will only make it worse,” she said.

Griffin's first abortion was when she was 20 and still in college. She worried about how she would pay for the procedure but her mom agreed to help.

“The people at the facility I went to in Charleston, they were extremely kind. They comforted me. It was a difficult thing to do. I don’t regret it. But it was a difficult thing to do,” Griffin said.

A handful of years later, at age 26, Griffin got pregnant again. She said she was in an unhealthy relationship and already had a daughter. She decided to have another abortion.

“I was like ‘I can’t — I can’t have this kid,’” she said. “Like, I’m barely making it with the one child … It wouldn’t have been fair to bring a kid into a situation where I can’t take care of you. Then I’m taking away resources from my child that’s already here … It just wasn’t right.”

Griffin said right now, her organization is trying to help as many people as possible before South Carolina further restricts abortion, which lawmakers seem poised to do. the state Senate’s Medical Affairs Committee is currently considering the draft bill with the “aiding and abetting” provision. The panel scheduled a full day of public input on abortion legislation for Wednesday. The draft measure could be changed before going to the full state senate for a vote.

Griffin said the Palmetto State Abortion Fund is talking with attorneys about how to proceed if the bill passes.

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literture and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, Claire likes listening to podcasts and trying out new recipes.