South Carolina Senate committee advances bill banning most abortions

South Carolina Senate committee advances bill banning most abortions

A South Carolina bill that would ban most abortion procedures in the state cleared another hurdle Tuesday and will now go before the full Senate for a vote.

The Post and Courier reports a bill banning abortions in South Carolina as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy was advanced by the Senate Medical Affairs Committee in a 9-6 vote. The bill includes exceptions for rape and incest, which a previous version did not include.

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The bill makes performing an abortion illegal if an ultrasound detects a fetal heartbeat and calls for criminally punishing any abortion provider who follows through with the procedure after determining a fetal heartbeat exists.

Providers who do not adhere to the measure could be subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in prison, the news outlet noted.

State Sen. Tom Davis (R), a supporter of the bill, said he hopes the legislation passes and challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling which made abortion legal nationwide.

Davis advocated for adding back in the exceptions for performing an abortion for survivors of rape or incest.

Under his amendment, an abortion would be allowed for survivors of rape or incest up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but only after the abortion provider verifies that the crime was reported.

State Sen. Margie Bright-Matthews (D) pushed back on the amendment, saying many women do not report the crimes because it can be traumatizing and humiliating.

“You can’t just walk into a police department and say, ‘I’ve been sexually assaulted but I don’t want him prosecuted.’ That’s not the way it works,” she said, according to the Post and Courier. “Especially in small areas and college campuses, it becomes public whether you like it or not, and that adds to the harassment or psychological effect.” 

State Sen. Richard Cash (R), who proposed removing the exceptions for rape and incest from the bill, acknowledged the fact that some women become pregnant as a result of “horrible crimes that cause great pain and suffering,” but added that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

“Killing an unborn baby will kill the life of an innocent human being,” he said.

The bill has already passed the House and will now go to the Senate floor for a full vote. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has signaled that he would sign the legislation into law should it reach his desk, according to the news outlet.

Several other states in recent months have passed similar “fetal heartbeat” abortion restrictions.

Federal courts have blocked similar laws restricting abortion in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Alabama.