The South Carolina state House has passed a bill banning abortions that would protect the lives of unborn children starting at conception. The measure could make South Carolina the next state to officially ban abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe.
The state House approved the Human Life Protection Act on an 83-31 vote. Rep. Jackie Hayes of Dillon was the only Democrat to vote for the bill along with pro-life Republicans.
There is concern that the state Senate will not take up the bill.
Republican senators crafted it in a way they hope will cause justices to flip their 3-2 ruling in a future challenge.
But House GOP leaders called the Senate’s actions unacceptable, setting up a potential standstill between Republicans who rule both chambers. It’s unclear whether either chamber will even consider the other’s bill.
“The House has taken another giant step in protecting human life,” House Speaker Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, said after the vote.
Asked about next steps, Smith said the House GOP passed the bill it has the votes to push through.
“We simply don’t have the votes” to accept the more lenient Senate version, he said.
The pro-life law that restores legal protection to the unborn members of our human family is sponsored by many ranking members of the House including Speaker Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, Majority Leader Davey Hiott, R-Pickens, Judiciary Committee Chairman Weston Newton, R-Beaufort, and House Family Caucus Chairman John McCravy, R-Greenwood.
Amy Baker, lobbyist for South Carolina Citizens for Life, reported that 6,567 pro-lifers contacted members of the House Judiciary Committee via VoterVoice and urged members to support H3774. “Never underestimate the value of your voice,” Mrs. Baker said. “Today in the House Judiciary Committee hearing, legislators across party lines stated the importance of representing their constituents. Continuous advocacy for the unborn should continue so that your Representative knows where you stand.”
Representative McCravy addressed two issues that affected the redrafting of the 2023 Human Life Protection Act. First was the South Carolina Supreme Court’s 3-2 decision to overturn the 2021 Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. The second was addressing objections of the State Senate which killed the 2022 Human Life Protection Act.
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One particularly effective message came from pro-life physician Peter Bleyer, M.D. who wrote to the lawmakers, “As president of South Carolina’s Catholic Medical Guild and medical director of two SC crisis pregnancy centers, I have come to fully understand that it is our refusal to respect life in all its stages which has led to the general disrespect for our profession. If you lie about little things, you will lie about greater ones as well. In denying the humanity of the small, newly conceived human for financial gain, we denied our ethical duty to establish a doctor-patient relationship with the child in the womb and sold out to our patients… Large physician groups have worked tirelessly since the 70s to convince America that not all life has equal value, dehumanizing that which physicians know better than anyone to be completely human. It is disappointing that government must legislate that which physicians have a natural ethical obligation to provide, but I thank you for doing so. Clearly it is necessary. Please pass H3774, the Human Life Protection Act and protect the most vulnerable members of our human family in South Carolina.”
South Carolina Citizens for Life and the state’s coalition of pro-life, pro-family organizations strongly supported H3774. These include the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Palmetto Family, the South Carolina Baptist Convention, the South Carolina Association of Pregnancy Care Centers, the South Carolina Republican Party, and the Alliance Defending Freedom among others. Numerous pro-life physicians, nurses, and individuals with pro-life stories to tell submitted written testimony in support of H3774.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina state Senate passed a bill to ban abortions on unborn babies whose heartbeats can be detected. The chamber voted 28-12 for the bill, with Democrats voting to support killing babies in abortions and Republicans voting pro-life. Republican Sen. Sandy Senn was the only GOP member to vote against the bill.
Republican lawmakers say the bill is drafted in a manner to conform with a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned the previous heartbeat abortion ban.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey emphasized that several clarifications of the bill’s language and repeals of conflicting laws will satisfy a majority on the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The Senate measure includes exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly and the patient’s life and health up to 12 weeks. Meanwhile, a full ban from conception has again advanced to the House floor in a development that threatens to prevent another abortion restriction from becoming law in South Carolina.
Senators moved quickly to advance the long-sought Republican priority. Republican leadership bypassed the traditional committee process to hold a vote this week on the bill. Massey said additional public input was unnecessary given the mountain of testimony over years of hearings on the issue.