South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster Will Sign Bill Banning Abortions When Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 26, 2019   |   9:39AM   |   Columbia, SC

Pro-life Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina promised Thursday to sign a bill banning abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

Following the lead of Georgia and other states, the South Carolina House passed the bill Wednesday in a 70-31 vote.

During a speech Thursday in Mauldin, the Republican governor said he will sign the bill if the Senate passes it, Greenville News reports.

“If it gets to my desk, I will certainly sign it,” McMaster said. “It is a pro-life bill, and the people of this state are pro-life.”

State House Bill 3020 would require abortionists to test for a fetal heartbeat before every abortion and would 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.

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.”

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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.

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.

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

“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, previously.

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 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.