South Carolina state House approves 'heartbeat' abortion ban

South Carolina state House approves 'heartbeat' abortion ban
© Francis Rivera

Lawmakers in South Carolina this week passed a bill that would ban abortions in the state as long as a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The South Carolina House passed the bill 70-31 along party lines, but it is unlikely to be taken up in the state Senate with just days left in the 2019 legislative session, The State reported.

The bill has never made it this far in the South Carolina legislature, the outlet noted. Similar bills introduced in past sessions all died before making it to the floor of either state chamber.

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Current law prohibits abortions in South Carolina at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. The proposal bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can come around the six-week mark, before many women know they are pregnant.

The bill would provide exceptions in cases where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or physical health, or in cases of rape or incest.

State Rep. Nancy Mace (R) argued for exceptions for rape and incest to be added to the bill, which originally left them out.

Mace said she was raped as a teenager and urged her Republican colleagues to make the exceptions, the newspaper reported.

“Rape is not a partisan issue,” Mace said. “A rapist is not a father. And I hope and pray any women or teenager who is raped or assaulted or a victim of incest would choose life. [But,] I’m not going to take that [decision] away from anybody else. You have no idea what a woman or child goes through who is a victim of rape, of incest.”

South Carolina Democrats argued that Republicans push forward various abortion bans every year “for a soundbite” while neglecting other issues, The State reported.

“This waste of time is sickening to me,” South Carolina Rep. David Mack (D) said. “We go through this every year and the bottom line is, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her right to choose."

Several other states, including Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia, have passed "heartbeat" abortion bills this year.

Many of them immediately faced legal challenges, and courts have struck down the measures as unconstitutional.