South Carolina Legislature Sends 6-Week Abortion Ban to Governor’s Office

South Carolina Legislature Sends 6-Week Abortion Ban to Governor’s Office


A controversial six-week abortion ban bill is headed to South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster’s office for signing into law after the measure was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday.

The state Senate approved a House-amended version of the bill by a 27-19 vote, after that House passed it last week.

Senate Bill 474, known as the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, would ban most abortions after early heart activity can be detected in a fetus or embryo, usually as early as week six. pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. . Any doctor who knowingly breaks the law would have their license to practice in the state revoked by the state Board of Medical Examiners and could face felony charges, fines and jail time.

McMaster said the Twitter after the vote he “looks forward to signing this bill into law as soon as possible.”

The bill includes exceptions for saving the life of the patient and for fatal fetal anomalies, as well as exceptions limited to up to 12 weeks for victims of rape and incest, with requirements for the doctor to report to the police. local order. It also contains an amendment added by the House that would require a “biological father” to pay child support from the time of conception.

It remains to be seen whether the measure would survive a legal challenge once enacted. South Carolina passed a similar six-week abortion ban in 2021, but the state Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, finding that the state’s constitution’s privacy protections require procedural limits to give women enough time to end a pregnancy.

With McMaster’s signature, South Carolina will join a list of Republican-led states that championed sweeping abortion restrictions following last year’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. But the backlash, demonstrated in some cases by election evidence, to severe restrictions has created a complicated political landscape in some states, including South Carolina.

Recent efforts to pass new restrictions on abortion failed in April when the state Senate failed to pass the “Protection of Human Life Act,” which would have banned most abortions in the state, in a 22-21 vote with several Republicans voting against. The bill had already passed the State House and included exceptions for incidents of rape or incest.

A bipartisan group of five women legislators in the state Senate banded together to try to stop the bill from passing on Tuesday. However, the three Republican men who joined them weeks ago in blocking the more restrictive blanket abortion ban in the regular session voted in favor of the six-week ban.

Republican State Senator Katrina Shealy, before voting no, tried to push through an amendment to raise the limit on abortions to 12 weeks and 20 weeks for victims of rape and incest.

“Men are 100% responsible for pregnancies,” Shealy said as she introduced her amendment. “Men are fertile 100% of the time. So it’s time for the men in this room and those across this room and across the state of South Carolina to take some responsibility for ejaculation.

Republican men in the Senate who voted for the bill pushed back against their colleagues’ claims, noting that they believed the amended legislation was a compromise.

“So on what basis are we saying, by law, that we’re going to draw a line by majority vote, that we can kill this human being?” asked Republican Senator Richard Cash. “That is what this debate is about. I mean, I’ll be the first to say that this is a terribly flawed bill that we’re going to vote on, this fetal heart rate bill, full of inconsistencies and exceptions. It does not protect human life from the beginning.

The ‘senator sisters’ – three Republicans, one Democrat and one independent – argued during Tuesday’s debate that changes made by the House, including to definitions of certain terms, materially altered the version of the bill passed by the Senate. .

State Sen. Sandy Senn, a Republican who voted against the bill, said he was particularly concerned about a clause added to the bill by the House giving the state “a compelling interest from the outset of the pregnancy of a woman to protect the health of the woman and the life of the unborn child.

The House changes were a key reason Republican Sen. Penry Gustafson voted against the bill on Tuesday, after voting in favor of an earlier version of the six-week ban in February.

“They pretty much slapped the bill, inserted their own language, their own definitions, additional ‘awaited’ inquiry clauses, which could be problematic for the Supreme Court of South Carolina,” Gustafson told CNN’s Abby Phillip. “It’s just not the same bill. I do not support it.

Shortly after the bill passed, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic said on Twitter“We have only one thing to say to the State of South Carolina: we will see you in court.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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