South Carolina Legislature Passes Bill to Ban Abortions After 19 Weeks When Babies Feel Pain

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   May 17, 2016   |   6:24PM   |   Columbia, SC

The South Carolina legislature has approved a bill that would protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.

On March 8, the South Carolina Senate passed the bill known as Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act by a strong majority, LifeNews reported. The state House, which is controlled by Republicans, approved the bill today.

Here’s more:

Similar laws are in effect in 12 states. They’ve been blocked by court challenges in three others, and the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the ban’s constitutionality. A South Dakota law signed in March takes effect this summer.

In Utah, a related law, also signed in March, requires doctors to provide anesthesia to a fetus at least 20 weeks in the womb.

A doctor who performs an illegal abortion under the bill would face up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is getting her pen ready to sign the bill into law. The pro-life governor told the Associated Press earlier this year that she almost certainly will sign the bill, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks when evidence shows that unborn babies can feel pain.

Emphasizing her support for pro-life measures, Haley said she will look over the details of the bill if it reaches her desk.

“I can’t imagine any scenario in which I wouldn’t sign it,” the Republican governor said.

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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 previously said in an email.

Gatling said the bill had strong bi-partisan support in the Senate. 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.

Haley has a strong pro-life record. Last year, Haley ordered an investigation of abortion clinics in the state following a national scandal involving Planned Parenthood selling aborted babies’ body parts. As a result, state health officials found multiple violations that have resulted in fines and other actions against the state’s three abortion clinics.

In 2012, Haley signed two key pro-life bills to protect babies who are born alive after failed abortions and to opt-out of abortions in the federal health care insurance in the Obamacare exchange.

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.”

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.