COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – A proposal that would likely ban almost all abortions in South Carolina moved closer to final approval in a party-line committee vote Tuesday.
The Justice Committee of the House of Representatives voted 15 to 8 in favor of the ” South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Abortion Protection Act. “The bill is already passed the Senate and the governor promises to sign it, although the law is likely to be the subject of lengthy legal proceedings before it can go into effect.
The proposal would require doctors to use an ultrasound to detect the fetus’s heartbeat if they believe pregnant women are at least eight weeks old. If they experience a heartbeat and the pregnancy is not the result of rape or incest, they cannot have the abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger.
A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks after conception and before many women know they are pregnant.
About a dozen other states have passed similar bills despite being embroiled in legal challenges. The bill’s main sponsor, Rep. John McCravy, R-Greenwood, said during his presentation of the bill he expected the US Supreme Court to make its 1973 decision on abortion law based on recent Conservative judges added by former President Donald Trump were, cancels.
“The constitution in our nation has evolved into what nine judges say it means,” McCravy said.
Numerous public hearings have been held on the bill in recent years, but GOP lawmakers are no longer planning public testimony thereon.
For the most part, Republicans remained calm after the bill was passed, allowing several Democrats to speak.
“This is an issue we shouldn’t be addressing,” said Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia MP. “It is a choice that must be made between a woman, her family, and her doctor.”
The Democrats tried unsuccessfully to change the bill. Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, proposed changes that put the state “in full financial responsibility” for a child if the mother is denied an abortion, calling this “truly pro-life.”
Another failed amendment was that the proposal would only be enforced if the US Supreme Court upheld similar laws in other states. Both failed with the votes of the party line.
A third change would have allowed pregnant women and the fathers of their babies to openly carry guns to protect their fetuses. That didn’t work either.
The Democrats argued that Republicans do not care enough about children after they are born. They also questioned the constitutionality of the bill and the parts of the proposal, such as how the state would handle the need for doctors to show the ultrasound to visually impaired women.
“After this calculation, the doctor should ask the woman if he would like to hear the heartbeat. I think we have to train our doctors in sign language, ”said Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg.
Democrats said the bill would require an invasive ultrasound to hear a possible heartbeat this early in pregnancy, rather than one on the outside of a woman’s belly. To illustrate this, Bamberg held up an internally used wand as he spoke, but the Republicans challenged this argument.
“I can’t find that anywhere on the bill,” said Rep. Weston Newton, R-Bluffton. “I want to make sure that we actually take what was offered as an opinion into account.”
Tuesday’s discussion in the committee meeting is likely to be a preview of the debate that will take place in plenary later this month.
Some Democratic officials are planning amendments to try to keep it from being passed for as long as possible, Republicans will likely try to avoid changes to the bill that could send it back to the Senate where it had been tripped for years before 2021.
The entire House passed a similar Law 70-31 in 2019.
Republicans were finally able to get the proposal through the South Carolina Senate after taking three seats from the Democrats in the 2020 election.
Democratic MP Cezar McKnight told lawmakers that South Carolina had much more pressing problems, including improving education, finding a way to improve lives for poor children, and increasing the Department of Social Services budget to help families help.
“We’ll do everything we can when they’re in the womb, but after that it’s about the survival of the strongest,” said the Kingstree Democrat.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.