The South Carolina House overwhelmingly approved a bill Wednesday that would ban most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually between the sixth and eighth week of pregnancy.
The state Senate, which gained three more Republican seats in the 2020 elections, passed the legislation at the end of January, as the Associated Press (AP) reported.
According to the report, most Democrats walked out of the House chamber in protest of the bill. During the walkout, Republicans eliminated more than 100 proposed amendments to the measure.
“This is the greatest pro-life bill this state has ever passed,” said State Rep. David Hiott (R) of Pickens.Matt Perdie
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of Orangeburg criticized Republicans.
“You love the fetus in the womb,” she said. “But when it is born, it’s a different reaction.”
State Rep. Melissa Lackey Oremus (R) of Aiken, however, told her story of becoming pregnant at age 16.
Now 42 years old and the mother of three, she recalled she was unsure what to do about her pregnancy as a teen, until an ultrasound revealed to her the baby’s heartbeat.
“That sound to me was, I had a human being inside of me,” Oremus said. “That sound, it was the most beautiful sound to me. How could I have a choice to kill that sound, to make it go away?”
After a final procedural vote in the state House, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is expected to sign the bill into law.
The legislation, called the South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, would require an abortion provider to test for a detectable fetal heartbeat prior to performing the procedure. If a heartbeat is detected, abortion is prohibited, except for a medical emergency.
An abortion provider who performs an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected “is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined ten thousand dollars, imprisoned not more than two years, or both,” the bill states.
Most of these laws have been struck down by courts in lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and other abortion rights activist groups. In striking down the laws, the courts cite the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and the Court’s subsequent rulings.