South Carolina Governor Will Sign Bill Banning Abortions When Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 15, 2020   |   7:51PM   |   Columbia, SC

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster promised Wednesday to sign a bill to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable.

The pro-life Republican governor joined hundreds of pro-lifers at the Statehouse for a rally calling on the state Senate to pass the heartbeat bill, WCIV reports.

“We have got work to do, and I want to promise you this: the right to life is fundamental to everything we stand for,” McMaster told the crowd. “It’s time now for the Senate to listen to the people of South Carolina … and pass the heartbeat bill.”

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.

The heartbeat bill passed the state House in April; however, state Senate leaders have said they do not have enough votes to stop pro-abortion Democrats from blocking the legislation. The South Carolina legislature has a two-year session.

According to the AP, the bill would need a two-thirds majority vote to overcome a block, and Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, a pro-life Republican, said they do not have that many votes.

Here’s more from the report:

Supporters of a bill that would ban almost all abortions in South Carolina want some leaders in the South Carolina Senate to know they won’t let the proposal quietly die.

Hundreds of them packed a Statehouse lobby Wednesday to call for a vote on the bill whose only likely obstacle to becoming law is passing a two-thirds procedural vote in the Senate. There are enough Democrats and Republicans from less conservative districts to keep blocking the bill.

McMaster urged the Senate to listen to South Carolina voters and pass the bill.

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“I applaud the House for passing the Heartbeat Bill and urge the Senate to do so as well. As soon as the bill reaches my desk I will sign it,” he 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. If the bill passes and is enforced, thousands of babies’ lives could be saved every year.

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 Senate here to support the bill.