South Carolina state House advances bill banning most abortions
The South Carolina state House advanced a bill that would ban most abortions if the heartbeat of the fetus can be detected, sending the legislation to the governor for his signature.
The state House approved the controversial bill 79-35 on Wednesday and will conduct a final vote Thursday before it goes to Gov. Henry McMaster (R), who has committed to signing it, The State reported.
The legislation, entitled the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” intends to mandate that doctors conduct an ultrasound before performing an abortion to see if a heartbeat can be detected.
A fetal heartbeat can typically be heard between six and eight weeks of pregnancy, sometimes before women are aware they are pregnant.
If a fetal heartbeat is detected, an abortion is prohibited, unless the fetus was conceived from a rape or incest, the mother’s health is in danger or the fetus has an “anomaly.” Doctors who perform abortions on those who request the procedure due to rape or incest allegations are required to report the alleged crime to police.
Physicians who do not comply with the bill could face felony charges or have their medical license revoked.
The bill had previously passed the state Senate last month 30-13 early in the legislative session, meaning with the House’s approval it can go directly to McMaster. South Carolina’s upper chamber was able to pass without issue due to the GOP gaining three seats in the past election.
Ahead of the House vote on Wednesday, Democrats staged a protest by walking out of the House as they did not have enough votes to stop the legislation from moving forward.
“The Democratic caucus is here to proclaim that we’re tired of it,” Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said, according to The State. “We’re tired of the hypocrisy. We care about life until death.”
“(T)he Democratic Caucus will not participating in this farce that is about pretend life,” he added.
Proponents of the bill aimed to avoid any amendments to the legislation that would require it to go back to the Senate for approval. Several Democrats proposed amendments in the hopes of slowing down the bill’s passage, but they were shot down.
South Carolina Rep. Jonathon Hill (R) also attempted to present amendments, including one that would have prevented the rape and incest exceptions, but he did not turn them in on time.
Restrictive abortion legislation in several states has gotten tied up in numerous court battles. But anti-abortion activists hope that the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last year, leading to a conservative supermajority, can result in wins if cases reach the highest court.