COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina General Assembly has just passed the state’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill.
The vote in the House came Wednesday afternoon. It passed 79 to 35, with several lawmakers not voting.
A final procedural vote will happen Thursday, but is not likely to change the bill’s outcome.
Just as debate began Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers walked out of the House chamber in protest.
While Democrats held a news conference outside the chamber, debate continued in the House.
No amendments to the bill were made during that debate.
Since the Senate passed the same version of the bill in late January, it will soon head to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Henry McMaster has urged lawmakers to pass it and said he is eager to sign it into law.
Here’s a look at the bill:
The bill would ban abortions in South Carolina once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That usually happens around six to eight weeks after conception.
It would effectively ban most abortions because many women do not know they are pregnant at that point in their gestation.
Doctors or health care providers who perform an abortion in violation of the law could face a felony charge with a $10,000 fine, two years in jail or both.
Abortion would still be allowed in the following instances:
- Fetal anomaly
- If carrying the baby would harm the mother’s life
Doctors must give the sheriff the patient’s contact info within 24 hours if an abortion is performed on a woman who was pregnant as a result of rape or incest.
The bill is headed for the governor’s desk. McMaster has indicated he will sign the bill into law.
But pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union are expected to immediately file a lawsuit claiming the law is unconstitutional.
It is expected that any litigation surrounding the law would prevent it from immediately taking effect.
Some Republican lawmakers hope the bill will be used to challenge Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Democrats and some legal experts say that is unlikely, however, since other states have already passed similar laws that are waiting to be taken up by the high court.
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