March 25, 2023

Republican leaders in South Carolina tout support of heartbeat abortion bill

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster joined Republican leadership Wednesday in touting support for a bill that would ban most abortions in the state.

McMaster spoke alongside GOP House and Senate leaders during a news conference at the state Capitol before senators took up Senate Bill 1 for a second day of debate.

“We’ve got ways to go yet, but we’ve never been this close,” McMaster said, pledging again to sign a heartbeat bill if one is approved by the Legislature.

The Senate approved the heartbeat bill on a second reading, 29-17. A final reading in the Senate is required before proceeding to the House. That final reading and vote could come Thursday.

Senate Bill 1 would criminalize abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, except in a medical emergency. A fetal heartbeat usually can be detected about six weeks after conception before many women realize they are pregnant. An amendment creating exceptions for pregnancies from rape and incest was adopted during Senate debate Tuesday.

“My hope now is that the Senate will send to the House a heartbeat bill, which we will pass, as we have done in the past, and we will send it to the governor, as soon as possible,” House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, said.

For several years, similar heartbeat bills have passed the House and advanced to the full Senate.

“This is not a victory lap today,” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said. “We’re going to have to do some things, maybe to play some chess in the Senate in order to make this happen. But I’ve been studying chess and watching some games. I’ve got some ideas.”

In addition to criminalizing abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, the bill would require abortion providers to conduct an ultrasound and listen for a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. Providers also would be required to advise women of alternatives to an abortion, such as adoption or foster care. As amended, the bill also requires the state to cover pre- and post-natal care for uninsured mothers legally residing in South Carolina.

“We must protect life. The question before us is where does that protection begin, at what age?” McMaster said. “That protection certainly must begin when a heartbeat is detectable for that baby.”

This article was originally published on Republican leaders in South Carolina tout support of heartbeat abortion bill

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