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SC House of Representatives advances controversial ‘abortion-reversal’ disclosure bill

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:06 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina House of Representatives voted Wednesday to advance a bill promoting a controversial procedure that doctors warned could potentially be dangerous.

The legislation, H.4568, would require doctors disclose information about “abortion reversals” to women receiving chemical abortions, which are induced by ingesting two drugs.

Despite the 71-29 vote along party lines to give the bill second reading in the House, essentially passing it, it faces a tight timeline to becoming law.

After Wednesday, just seven work days remain on the calendar for this legislative session, and the Senate version of the bill has yet to be debated in that chamber, despite sitting on the calendar for debate since March. As with any other piece of legislation, this needs to pass both chambers and reach the governor’s desk by the time the session ends to become law.

Under the bill, doctors would have to attach a disclosure statement with the following text to the discharge papers or prescription of a patient receiving a chemical abortion, instructing them to read it before taking the second pill: “Research has indicated that the first pill provided, identified as mifepristone, is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. If after taking the first pill you regret your decision, please consult a physician or health care provider immediately to determine if there are options available to assist you in continuing your pregnancy. Medication is also available by prescription to help restore progesterone and potentially strengthen the pregnancy if you and your physician make that decision.”

Supporters argued this would give women information about options they may not know they have.

“To be a party of pro-choice is what the left touts all the time. But a woman has another choice, and they want to take that from her,” Rep. Melissa Oremus, R – Aiken and the bill’s lead sponsor, said.

But OB-GYNs had previously testified these “abortion reversals” are not clinically proven and could potentially be dangerous.

Opponents contended this bill would put doctors in a complicated position.

“It requires that physicians in this state provide information to their patients regardless of scientific proof, regardless of the oath that they take as medical professionals, regardless of the truth, regardless of the fact,” Rep. Justin Bamberg, D – Bamberg, said.

Bamberg proposed the only Democrat-sponsored amendment to receive debate, which would have changed the disclosure statement to read, “If you would like to change your decision about terminating your pregnancy, please consult a physician or healthcare provider before taking the pills provided to determine whether there are options available to assist you in continuing your pregnancy.”

“We are not medical professionals in this chamber,” Rep. Beth Bernstein, D – Richland, said, arguing in favor of Bamberg’s amendment, which was ultimately voted down.

Rep. Josiah Magnuson, R - Spartanburg, proposed two amendments that would have further restricted if and when women can receive abortions. One of his amendments was struck from consideration for not being relevant to the overall bill, and the other was voted down in a closer 49-40 vote.

Some Democrats complained Republicans were wasting their time debating this bill when it appears unlikely to become law with so little time left in the legislative session and other bills remaining on their calendar for debate, including medical marijuana legislation.

But when the session ends, most House members will shift their focus to re-election in the June primary and November general election, so those Republicans in districts where pro-life issues are important would be able to tell their constituents they passed a pro-life bill, at least in their own chamber.

Following a routine vote in the House on Thursday, the bill will head over to the Senate, where the companion bill already awaits debate.

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