South Carolina Senate Will Vote on Bill to Ban Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heart Begins Beating

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 10, 2020   |   10:43AM   |   Columbia, SC

When the South Carolina Senate convenes Tuesday, lawmakers are expected to consider a bill to ban abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable.

The heartbeat bill passed the state House in April, and Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said he would sign it. The South Carolina legislature has a two-year session.

State House Bill 3020 requires abortion practitioners to test for an unborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibits 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. It allows exceptions for rape, incest and risks to the mother’s life.

However, Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, expressed doubts Thursday about the legislation passing the Senate, its final hurdle, WTOC 11 reports.

“We don’t have the votes,” Massey said.

The State reports Democrats are expected to filibuster the bill, and Republicans may not be able to override the block.

According to the report: “The Senate has 46 members. For Republicans to shut down a Democrat filibuster, they would need 26 votes. Massey said he believes they currently have 24.”

The heartbeat bill is before the full Senate after it passed out of committee in the fall.

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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. If the bill passes and is enforced, thousands of babies’ lives could be saved every year.

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 told the local news, previously. “Basically, the child in the womb was declared a nonperson with no rights, whatsoever.”

South Carolina and a growing number 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.

A 2019 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 2019, a judge declared the 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.

ACTION ALERT: Contact the South Carolina state Senate here to support the bill.