COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives debated and passed a bill Wednesday making it illegal to have an abortion in South Carolina as long as a heartbeat can be detected.
The bill was passed 70 to 31 following a vote to add an exception for abortions in cases of rape or incest.
This vote came after hours of heated debate on the floor and in committees.
Republican Representative Eddie Tallon believes this was a bill both sides need to debate, but he was clear on how he was voting all along.
“I’m pro-life, my family is pro-life and if I had stayed on the floor for many more hours as long as we could get it done,” Tallon said.
If a doctor were to perform an abortion outside of these constraints, House Bill 3020 states the practitioner could face criminal penalties.
Even if the bill were to pass out of the Statehouse, opponents believe it could face court challenges.
Democratic Representative Justin Bamberg said “The fetal heartbeat bill is unconstitutional if I’ve ever seen anything that is unconstitutional. Roe V. Wade is clear, and what we did today is effectively take a step back.”
Similar bills, like one in North Carolina, have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court.
But, for supporters of the bill, this is about preserving precious life.
“Rape and incest are tragic circumstances that nobody, we feel, I feel so sorry for these people I can’t express it. But the tragedy of that and the crime of that shouldn’t result in another person, their life being terminated,” Rep. John McCravy said.
Opponents of the bill and members of the South Carolina Democratic Party voiced their concerns about this proposed legislation to state Republicans, arguing that it’s a “disgraceful attack” on the constitutional rights of women across South Carolina.
Democratic Representative Todd Rutherford said, “Men should not be deciding on the rights of a woman and her body. If a woman gets pregnant because she is a victim of rape or the victim of incest, she and she alone should get to decide what she will do with that pregnancy.”
Those opposed also said the state could face detrimental, long-term consequences because of the potential law, forcing women to turn to unsafe alternatives. Another concern is that this would drive women’s healthcare providers away from practicing in our state.
The bill now has to pass the Senate, where lawmakers say it faces a more difficult path to become law.