COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill banning nearly all abortions, following the lead of other states with similar measures that would go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The bill faces a final procedural vote in the House on Thursday that is unlikely to change the outcome and will then be sent to the governor for his signature. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has promised to sign the measure as soon as possible.
The Senate approved the measure on Jan. 28, after years of failed attempts. Republicans gained three seats in the 2020 elections and the newly energized 30-16 Republican majority made the proposal Senate Bill No. 1.
“This is the greatest pro-life bill this state has ever passed,” said Republican Rep. David Hiott of Pickens.
The “ South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act " requires doctors to perform ultrasounds to check for a heartbeat in the fetus. If one is detected, the abortion can only be performed if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest or the mother’s life is in danger.
The bill would not punish a pregnant woman for getting an illegal abortion, but the person who performed the abortion could be charged with a felony, sentenced up to two years and fined $10,000 if found guilty.
About a dozen other states have passed similar or more restrictive abortion bans, which could take effect if the U.S. Supreme Court — with three justices appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump — were to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision supporting abortion rights.
Groups that oppose the bill will likely sue, keeping the law from going into effect. All of the bans passed by other states are tied up in court challenges.