South Carolina House passes near-total abortion ban
The South Carolina House has passed a near-total abortion ban for the second time, just more than a month after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s six-week ban.
The state House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines, 83-31, on Wednesday to ban the procedure from the point of conception, with exceptions for instances of rape, incest, a fatal fetal anomaly or the health or life of the pregnant individual being at risk, The Associated Press reported.
The bill’s passage comes a week after the state Senate approved legislation to ban abortion after cardiac activity can be detected, typically at around six weeks of pregnancy.
The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision last month that the state’s previous six-week ban, which went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, violated a state constitutional right to privacy.
But the author of the ruling and the deciding vote, former Justice Kaye Hearn, retired due to age requirements at the end of December. She was the only woman serving on the state Supreme Court and was succeeded by a male justice.
The state House and Senate will need to reconcile the differences between their two bills to pass new legislation to try to restrict access to the procedure. The state Supreme Court’s ruling allowed abortions to be performed at up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The two legislative bodies struggled to agree on when and in what cases a pregnancy can be aborted last year during a special session that was called to resolve the issue, the AP reported.
State Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R) has said the House bill does not have enough support in the Senate to pass and advocated for the Senate’s amended version of the bill that the state Supreme Court struck down.
The amended Senate bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly and protecting the health and life of the pregnant person up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
But state House Speaker Murrell Smith (R) said the House does not have the votes to pass the Senate’s “heartbeat” bill and that the bodies must negotiate.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion group, praised the state House’s legislation, arguing in a statement that it represents the “will of the people.”
“Under pro-life champion Governor Henry McMaster, who has prioritized safeguarding life from day one, South Carolinians are leading the way and we are very hopeful that strong pro-life protections will make it into law as soon as this year,” Caitlin Connors, the group’s southern regional director, said in a release.
–Updated at 1:41 p.m.
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