South Carolina House Committee Passes Bill to Ban Abortions on Babies With Beating Hearts

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 10, 2023   |   9:01AM   |   Columbia, South Carolina

A South Carolina House committee has approved a bill to ban abortions on babies with beating hearts — a pro-life measure meant to restore the heartbeat law that state courts overturned after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

The subcommittee and full committee votes to approve the bill also came after a handful of liberal Republicans in the state Senator sabotaged a better bill to protect babies and help women starting at conception. However, because the state Senate has approved this heartbeat measure already, the House could take up the bill and pass it so the legislature could show some success for unborn children.

As reported, Sen. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston) and a few other Republicans blocked a bill in the state Senate that would have banned abortions by protecting babies from conception. Fortunately, their actions will not end the effort to protect babies from abortions in South Carolina.

The next step will be for the full state House to pass the Heartbeat Bill (S474), which would ban abortions on babies at 6 weeks when their heartbeat can be detected. It includes exceptions for fatal fetal anomaly, rape, incest, and the patient’s life and health up to 12 weeks and abortionists who kill unborn children face fines and possible prison terms.

ACTION ALERT: Contact members of the South Carolina House and urge them to vote for the Heartbeat bill.

The House committee also included provisions to make it clear that medical care for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage, which is not an abortion, is still allowed under the abortion ban. It also requires that fathers pay retroactive child support starting at conception and cover half of all medical expenses.

Republican Majority Leader David Hiott said Senate negotiators have approved the changes but the Senate will still have to sign off on the bill before it goes to pro-life Governor Henry McMaster.

Although the legislative session ends May 11, McMaster has said he will call lawmakers back to the legislature to complete work on the bill if necessary.

Lawmakers hope the bill will survive at the state Supreme Court, where a more friendly justice has replaced Justice Gary Hill, who authored a decision striking down the state’s heartbeat law despite the Dobbs decision saying states can protect babies from aboritons.

Though protecting babies from conception is preferred, pro-life advocates are elated to be able to protect most babies from certain death.

Abortion data from the State Department of Health and Environmental Control show that more than 1000 babies a month are dying in the state’s three lucrative abortion businesses. Planned Parenthood operates abortion businesses in Columbia and Charleston. The abortion business in Greenville is privately owned.

Because the SC Senate failed twice to pass the Human Life Protection Act that protects the unborn child when the mother’s pregnancy is clinically diagnosable, Representative McCravy said the “best pro-life bill we can pass at this time” will protect the unborn child once the fetal heartbeat can be detected. Currently abortion in South Carolina is legal up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

Senate Republican Leader Shane Massey was disappointed after Senn and the other pro-abortion Republicans sabotaged the bill and said it appears impossible that the Senate will pass the Human Life Protection Act (H3774) , which would protect babies starting at conception.

Citing abortion statistics from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Senator Massey said abortions have doubled in South Carolina since the State Supreme Court overturned the 2021 Fetal Heartbeat Act while Georgia and Florida enacted laws protecting the unborn when the heartbeat can be detected. He said South Carolina is an abortion destination state for the southeast.

“South Carolina [abortion] law is the weakest in the southeast,” Massey said, emphasizing that abortions for out-of-state women have nearly doubled. North Carolina allows late abortions up to 20 weeks but there is a three-day waiting period, he said. That is a factor driving North Carolina residents to South Carolina where there is a 24-hour waiting period.

In 2022 from January to March, 87 non-resident women received abortions in South Carolina. In 2023 from January to March, 1,385 non-resident women received abortions in South Carolina. “That is a 1500 percent increase” in the number of non-resident women coming to South Carolina for abortion, Massey said.

Abortion is legal in South Carolina up to 20 weeks after fertilization. “Most South Carolinians don’t think that is acceptable,” Massey said.

During committee debate on the bill, 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.”

ACTION ALERT: Contact members of the South Carolina House and urge them to vote for the Heartbeat bill.