South Carolina Senate votes to outlaw most abortions in state
The South Carolina state Senate on Thursday voted to outlaw most abortions in the state, passing a bill that restricts abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The ”South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” passed in the state Senate in a 30-13 vote, according to The Associated Press.
The bill requires doctors to try to find a heartbeat using an ultrasound if they believe a woman is at least eight weeks pregnant. An abortion cannot be performed if a heartbeat is found unless the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if it endangers the life of the mother.
The legislation previously passed the state House and Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has said he will sign the bill. The AP noted that Republicans winning three new seats in the state Senate this past election helped state legislators overcome a key procedural hurdle to advance the legislation.
Similar bills have passed in several other states but have been tangled up in the courts with legal challenges.
“If this gets upheld by the courts, we will have saved thousands of lives in South Carolina every year. That is a tremendous victory,” state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R) said, according to the AP.
Abortion rights advocates are reportedly waiting to see whether the Supreme Court will speak on the issue as the court now has a six-justice conservative supermajority with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett last year.
The bill will now go to the state House where it could face challenges if any other restrictions are added. As the AP notes, two Republican lawmakers in the state Senate have said they cannot support the bill if the exceptions for rape and incest are removed.
“Enjoy this power and control while you have it fellows,” Democratic state Sen. Mia McLeod said to her GOP colleagues. “This is just politics to you, but it’s personal to millions of us.”