Thursday, May 3, 2018

S.C. Senate tentatively votes to ban almost all abortions in South Carolina

The bill is expected to face filibusters in the Senate and court challenges if passed

Posted by Adam Manno on Thu, May 3, 2018 at 1:48 PM

click to enlarge SEAN RAYFORD FILE
  • Sean Rayford file
The South Carolina Senate voted to outlaw almost all abortions, with very few exceptions, on Wednesday night.

Abortions would be banned except in cases of rape, incest, or emergencies that threaten the mother's life.

The bill is just one vote short of passing in the upper legislative chamber.

Senators voted 28-10 in favor of the proposed anti-abortion law after third reading, but the bill still faces some obstacles as Republicans expect Democrats to filibuster the bill until lawmakers adjourn for the year next Thursday.

Some state Republicans welcome that challenge.

"It's designed to give the court an opportunity to revisit Roe v. Wade," said Senate majority leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), according to The State.

Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) suggested tacking on the abortion ban bill to a House proposal seeking to outlaw "dismemberment" — a rare termination procedure in which a fetus is removed in pieces. It was used only 22 times in the 5,736 abortion procedures performed in the state last year.

Hutto's amendment was adopted 24-1. The Senate proposal replaces the House's previous dismemberment-only bill.

“It’s an attempt to get it to the courts so we don’t have to keep debating it over and over and over,” Hutto said, according to The State.

The abortion bill took priority in the Senate prior to Wednesday. Other bills, including several dealing with the $9 billion nuclear fiasco in Fairfield County, have been sidelined since, according to The Post & Courier.

Even if the amended bill cleared the GOP-controlled state House for approval and was signed by Gov. McMaster, the law is expected to face several court challenges as it clearly conflicts with the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which held that a woman's decision to have an abortion is protected by the due process clause of the 14th amendment.

Gov. McMaster has expressed his belief that life begins at conception, calling the right to life "the most precious of rights" in his State of the State address earlier this year.

“We are deeply dismayed that the South Carolina Senate approved one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country last night, which effectively bans women from accessing safe and legal abortion in our state," said Vicki Ringer, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in South Carolina, in a statement Thursday afternoon. "South Carolina women and families deserve the right to make personal medical decisions regarding pregnancy privately and without government intrusion."

Former Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in May 2016.

A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center noted that most South Carolinian respondents (52 percent) believed abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

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