The state Senate voted 30-13 Wednesday to pass the new ban, which is expected to become law.
“Life is the most precious right we have,” said state Sen Larry Grooms, who sponsored the bill. “Government’s primary duty is to protect the fundamental right to life. Without life, no other rights really matter.”
Gov. Henry McMaster has pledged to sign it if it reaches his desk, and the state’s Republican-controlled House has passed similar legislation in previous years.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been to passing into law the most comprehensive pro-life legislation our state has ever seen,” he tweeted Thursday evening. “It’s off to the House of Representatives now, where we have great leaders who I know will fight for life.”
If it passes the House, McMaster said he would “immediately sign it into law.”
The South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act would require a fetal heartbeat check when a woman seeks an abortion in the state. If one is detected, unless there is an emergency exception, the abortion would not be allowed.
Exceptions would include if the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger.
Just one Democrat voted for the ban, state Sen. Kent Williams, and only one Republican voted against it, state Sen. Sandy Senn.
According to the bill, 30% of natural pregnancies end in “spontaneous miscarriage,” but only 5% of pregnancies end that way after a heartbeat is detected. More than 90% of pregnancies survive the first trimester once a heartbeat is detected.
Still, if the bill becomes law, it would likely face the same legal challenges as similar heartbeat bills in other states, many of which remain unresolved.
“If this gets upheld by the courts, we will have saved thousands of lives in South Carolina every year,” Republican state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey told the Associated Press. “That is a tremendous victory.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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