South Carolina Panel Sends 24-Hour Abortion Waiting Period Bill to Full House
by Steven Ertelt
February 3, 2009
Columbia, SC (LifeNews.com) — A bill that requires abortion businesses to give women a 24-hour reflection period before an abortion received approval from the House Judiciary Committee. The panel approved the bill on a voice vote and now it heads to the full South Carolina state House for a debate and vote.
The current waiting period is just one hour and state legislators believe 24 hours gives women considering an abortion more time to reflect on its risks and alternatives.
Rep. Greg Delleney, a Republican, is the chief sponsor of the bill and he told the 25-member committee about the women who testified last week in a subcommittee hearing about the need for the bill.
He also said South Carolina requires a 24-hour waiting period before other actions such as obtaining a marriage license and refinancing a house, yet abortion is a life and death decision.
"If you wait 24 hours to be married and three days before you can buy a house," Delleney said. "I don’t know how this is such a drastic bill to give the mother 24 hours to determine if she wants to go through with this procedure."
Holly Gatling, the director of South Carolina Citizens for Life, a pro-life group that supports the legislation, said the panel spent two hours debating it and defeated two amendments designed to weaken the measure.
An amendment by Rep. James Smith, a Democrat, to essentially remove any waiting period failed 16-8. Another amendment from Rep. Todd Rutherford, another Democrat, to exempt abortion facilities from giving information to woman who have been raped failed 14-11.
"Obviously we are pleased that the committee passed the 24-hour waiting period before an abortion," Gatling told LifeNews.com after the vote.
She said opponents of the bill need to understand that pro-life advocates are trying to help women.
"It is important to understand that these laws regulate abortion businesses — not the women who go there," she said.
Opponents of the bill called it the "two visit" bill meaning a woman considering an abortion would be required to visit an abortion center twice before the abortion takes place.
"Representative Delleney pointed out that many medical procedures require the patient to visit the doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic more than one time," Gatling said. "People who undergo gastric by-pass surgery and knee replacement surgery must take instruction classes first, he said."
In the subcommittee, the legislation almost died when Rep. Smith, offered a motion to adjourn debate, claiming he needed more time to discuss the bill with constituents. Chairman Delleney pointed out that the legislature faces a time wall and the panel defeated the motion 3-2.
The bill enjoys the support of other pro-life groups including the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and the Palmetto Family Council.
The Womans Right to Know Act, approved in 1994, established the current one-hour waiting period.
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