South Carolina Senate Approves Bill to Ban All Abortions, Declares Unborn Babies People Under Law

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 3, 2018   |   9:29AM   |   Columbia, SC

The South Carolina Senate approved a measure to ban all abortions in the state Wednesday night, barely 24 hours after defeating a similar proposal.

The measure amended a bill to ban brutal dismemberment abortions that tear unborn babies limb from limb while their hearts are beating, The State reports. The newly amended bill would ban all abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life, according to the report.

State Senators voted 28-10 to approve the measure. It needs a second vote of approval before it can move to the state House for consideration.

Lawmakers said they expect abortion activists to challenge the bill if it becomes law, and they hope it will successfully challenge Roe v. Wade.

“It’s designed to give the court an opportunity to revisit Roe v. Wade,” state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey told the newspaper.

Here’s more from the report:

The proposal likely would ban some 97 percent of the roughly 5,700 abortions performed in South Carolina each year, according to the Democrat who suggested Republicans adopt it.

“It’s clearly unconstitutional from my point of view,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto. The Orangeburg Democrat said he filed the proposal in order to quickly end a debate over “dismemberment” abortions that had raged in the Senate for two days until late Wednesday.

The Senate passed the bill less than an hour after Hutto’s amendment was adopted. It needs one more vote on Wednesday, and Republicans expect their Democratic counterparts to filibuster the amended proposal.

After the vote, Hutto said, S.C. lawmakers can get to other important issues, such as South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear fiasco. He said he is confident the courts would strike down the proposed abortion ban, if it passes the Senate and then the House.

The vote came barely 24 hours after the Senate defeated a similar amendment to the dismemberment abortion ban. That amendment would have granted legal rights to unborn babies from the moment of conception in South Carolina.

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A separate bill to recognize unborn babies as legal persons also failed to pass the state House this spring, according to the local news. After it was introduced, a South Carolina Planned Parenthood spokesperson threatened a legal challenge.

Because of the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts, a law to prohibit abortions in the first trimester most likely would not survive a court challenge. President Donald Trump promised to appoint pro-life justices to the high court, but he would have to appoint at least one more judge before the legislation would have a chance of being upheld. Currently, only four of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices possibly would overturn Roe.

When courts rule against pro-life laws, state taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

North Dakota and Arkansas passed bills to prohibit abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable (about six weeks) several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week ban: “Because there is no genuine dispute that (North Dakota’s law) generally prohibits abortions before viability — as the Supreme Court has defined that concept — and because we are bound by Supreme Court precedent holding that states may not prohibit pre-viability abortions, we must affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the plaintiffs.”