Last Thursday, the South Carolina Senate voted 30-13 to pass a bill that will outlaw almost all abortions in the state if signed into law.
The “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act” outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six to eight weeks, often before a person is even aware they are pregnant.
The bill does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and only allows an abortion to be performed if the life of the pregnant person is in danger. Doctors who do not check for a fetal heartbeat or perform the procedure regardless would be charged with a felony and could face up to two years in prison.
South Carolina Republicans have tried and failed numerous times to pass the bill previously and were finally successful after a new overwhelming conservative majority was elected to the state Senate this past November. The bill will go to the state House next where it is expected to pass, and South Carolina governor Republican Henry McMaster has already promised to sign it into law.
“What was done today was entirely political theater to appease extremists,” said South Carolina Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto. “Republican senators showed you today that they want to deny you of your constitutional rights, but they ultimately will not be successful.”
State Senator Mia McLeod, a sexual assault survivor, said the bill “mocks God by taking away our rights, our liberties, our freedoms and our choices.” She is extremely critical of the provision in the bill which requires doctors to give the name and contact information of those seeking an abortion due to rape or incest to the local authorities.
“After taking all of that, do you have to take our dignity, too?” she said. “Does it make you feel good when women have to relive the horror, the unspeakable shame and the trauma of all that we’ve experienced at the hands of a man, then, to add insult to injury, force us to retell it to another man — this one with a badge?”
The bill is certain to face a slew of legal challenges in the lower courts and may be prevented from being enacted while it works its way through the legal system. Anti-abortion proponents hope that the case will come before the Supreme Court and that the now conservative majority will rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.