South Carolina Committee Passes Bill Banning Abortions When Baby’s Heart Begins Beating

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 5, 2019   |   7:55PM   |   Columbia, SC

South Carolina is inching closer to passing legislation that would protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeat is detectable.

On Tuesday, the state Senate Medical Affairs Committee voted 9-6 to move the heartbeat bill forward to the full Senate, The Hill reports. The bill passed the House in April, and Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said he would sign it.

South Carolina House Bill 3020 would require abortion practitioners to test for an unborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibit the abortion if they detect one. An unborn baby’s heartbeat typically is detectable about six weeks of pregnancy, so the legislation would ban most abortions.

The Medical Affairs Committee added amendments allowing exceptions for rape and incest after an earlier committee removed them. The bill also allows exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.

The State reports the rape and incest exceptions are an issue of contention among Republican lawmakers, and the bill may not pass the state Senate.

Here’s more from The Hill:

State Sen. Tom Davis (R), a supporter of the bill, said he hopes the legislation passes and challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling which made abortion legal nationwide.

Davis advocated for adding back in the exceptions for performing an abortion for survivors of rape or incest.

Under his amendment, an abortion would be allowed for survivors of rape or incest up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but only after the abortion provider verifies that the crime was reported.

However, state Sen. Richard Cash, a fellow Republican, opposes the exceptions. According to the report, he recognized that rape is a horrible crime “that causes great pain and suffering,” but he pointed out that abortion also is horror against an unborn baby.

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“Killing an unborn baby will kill the life of an innocent human being,” Cash said.

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.

Earlier, South Carolina Citizens for Life Executive Director Holly Gatling said most abortions kill a baby after their heart has started beating.

“Our mission is to protect the lives of unborn children who have no more rights than a styrofoam cup under the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions,” she said, according to the local news. “Basically, the child in the womb was declared a nonperson with no rights, whatsoever.”

South Carolina and a growing list of other states have considered or passed heartbeat legislation. Lawmakers in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio passed similar legislation within the past year, but none currently are in effect due to legal challenges. Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced a heartbeat bill in October.

A May poll found strong public support for heartbeat legislation. The Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive, according to The Hill.

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.

North Dakota and Arkansas passed heartbeat bills several years ago, but federal courts struck down both laws. In January, a judge declared an Iowa heartbeat law unconstitutional.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said the following about its ruling on the six-week abortion 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.”

The Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, 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.