South Carolina Senate Passes Pro-Life Bill Banning Late-Term Abortions After 20 Weeks

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 9, 2016   |   1:42PM   |   Columbia, SC

South Carolina is one step closer to protecting unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.

On Tuesday, a strong majority of South Carolina Senators passed the bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, to ban abortions after 20 weeks when an unborn child can feel pain; the vote was 36-9, according to the Associated Press.

The bill has exceptions in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy and when doctors determine that the unborn baby has a fatal defect and cannot survive outside the womb, the report states. According to WSOC News 9, doctors who violate the legislation could face fines of up to $10,000 and up to three years in prison.

The bill protects “pain-capable unborn children from savage late abortions that frequently tear the baby’s body apart, limb by limb,” South Carolina Citizens for Life Executive Director Holly Gatling said in an email.

Gatling said the bill had strong bi-partisan support. No Republican Senators opposed the bill, and nine of the 18 Democrat Senators voted in favor of the bill, according to the pro-life group.

“It’s a victory for life,” said pro-life Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston. “The life of an unborn child is sacred. If government has any purpose it should be to protect life.”

The state House is expected to vote on the bill later this week, according to local news reports. Gov. Nikki Haley, who is pro-life, is expected to sign the bill if it reaches her desk.

Keep up with the latest pro-life news and information on Twitter.

Some 12 states already protect unborn babies from painful late-term abortions after 20 weeks: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. On Monday, South Dakota legislators passed a similar bill in the state House. South Carolina also attempted to pass similar legislation last year.

A national poll by The Polling Company found that, after being informed that there is scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain at least by 20 weeks, 64% would support a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, unless the mother’s life was in danger.   Only 30% said they would oppose such a law.

Though abortion advocates deny the science of fetal pain, researchers have fully established fetal pain at 20 weeks or earlier. Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for unborn pain.

He testified before U.S. Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen wrote, “The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb.”

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

Further research showed that hormone levels in unborn babies decrease when pain-relievers are supplied, LifeNews previously reported.

As a result of this research, a pro-life Utah state senator recently proposed legislation to require that unborn babies be given anesthesia prior to being killed in an abortion.