Advertisement

SC Heartbeat Bill heads to full Senate after lawmakers vote out exceptions for rape, incest

Updated: Jan. 22, 2021 at 7:44 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s so-called Fetal Heartbeat Bill could reach the state Senate floor for a full debate as early as next week.

A Senate committee, made up of a majority of male members, voted against adding exceptions for rape and incest to the bill. The only exception that would allow an abortion would be if it would save a mother’s life or in instances of a “medical emergency” in which harm could come to the mother.

If passed, the bill would ban abortions in the state after a heartbeat can be detected, which usually happens between six to eight weeks.

The committee also adopted an amendment that would cover some of the medical expenses for legal abortions if the woman does not have insurance. It would only apply to people legally in the U.S. and currently residing in South Carolina.

Democrats hope the bill will die on the Senate floor or in the courts because they see a ban at eight weeks, a time when some mothers do not yet know they are pregnant, as an all-out abortion ban that would go against Roe v. Wade.

The bill has moved quickly through the General Assembly. If the state Senate passes it, House members would then receive the bill.

Legal experts, however, say that similar bills passed in other states like Georgia still aren’t law because they are stuck in court battles.

“So Georgia’s, for example, is already before a circuit court and that’s a lot further down the pipeline, so if this Supreme Court really wants to go the Heartbeat Bill route they have a lot of options that would get there before South Carolina’s would,” Florida State University Law Professor Mary Zeigler said.

“ACLU, Planned Parenthoods, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, and unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe,” Drexel University Law Professor David Cohen said. “They will all win. And when they win they will get money from the people of South Carolina.”

Cohen said those fees are often paid out to pro-choice groups like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

Other states that passed similar bills banning abortions between six and eight weeks include Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee. None of those bills have yet become law, Cohen said.

The final decision on all these bills will be up to the Supreme Court, which currently has a 6-3 Conservative majority.--

Zeigler said it’s difficult to predict what the Supreme Court will do on this case.

“The Supreme Court does whatever it wants, I mean people of any political persuasion who have been paying attention long enough should be well aware these people have lifetime appointments, right? And you can’t force their hand they are going to deal with Roe V Wade exactly as they want to, if they ever do it,” she said.

Gov. Henry McMaster’s spokesman, Brian Symmes, said the governor is a strong supporter of this bill, adding he wouldn’t support a bill he believed was unconstitutional.

McMaster urged lawmakers to pass the bill during his State of the State Address earlier this month, vowing he would sign it as soon as it reached his desk.

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.