South Carolina Panel Passes Bill Banning Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 4, 2019   |   9:49AM   |   Columbia, SC

South Carolina lawmakers moved forward with a bill late Tuesday to ban abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

Following the lead of Georgia and other states, the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee passed the heartbeat bill in a 15-7 vote Tuesday night, the AP reports.

State House Bill 3020 would require abortionists to test for a fetal heartbeat before every abortion and prohibit abortions if a heartbeat is detected. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life. It also would require abortionists to offer the woman the chance to hear her baby’s heartbeat and see the ultrasound.

An unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable by about six weeks of pregnancy, though new research suggests the heartbeat may begin as early as 18 days after conception. If the bill becomes law and withstands a legal challenge, it could ban almost all abortions in South Carolina.

WSPA 7 News reports the committee heard a number of heartbreaking testimonies prior to the vote. One came from a local chaplain who said she deeply regrets aborting her unborn baby.

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“I am one of the 61 million women that have experienced abortion that has traumatically affected my life,” she told the committee.

Here’s more from the report:

A mother, whose daughter had an abortion while in high school, blamed Planned Parenthood for not requiring consent or notifying the parent of the daughter’s decision. She described her daughter’s life now.

“She could never come to grips with the baby that she lost. So she is now incarcerated for felony DUI, a 23 year sentence.”

However, abortion activists argued that the bill would lead to a shortage of doctors in the state. Others claimed women should be allowed to make the decision to abort an unborn baby without government interference, according to the local news reports.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Vicki Ringer warned that they may file a lawsuit to overturn the law if the state passes it.

“If you believe that [U.S. Supreme Court Justices Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh will save you on the Supreme Court. That court has already blocked an abortion bill,” Ringer said.

Before the final vote, the committee amended the bill to include exceptions for rape and incest, according to the AP.

State Rep. John McCravy is leading the effort to pass the heartbeat bill.

“It’s a common-sense bill. If a heart stops beating permanently, the person is dead,” McCravy said when he pre-filed the bill in December. “Common sense should tell us that when a heart is beating, we have a precious human life that should not be terminated.”

About 5,100 unborn babies were aborted in South Carolina in 2017, and most were later than six weeks of pregnancy, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Pro-life Gov. Henry McMaster, who also is in a legal battle to defund the abortion giant Planned Parenthood, said he would support the legislation.

This year, pro-life lawmakers have introduced a number of heartbeat bills including in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.

Recently, a federal judge blocked Kentucky’s new heartbeat bill.

The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain – especially after Chief Justice John Roberts recently sided with the liberal justices on an abortion case.