Over the summer, several states made headlines for the introduction of “heartbeat bills,” legislation that restricts abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This year alone, nine states have passed bills that restrict abortion laws, with some being more restrictive than others.
In April 2019, South Carolina approved a bill, with a 70 to 31 vote, that severely restricts abortions. This bill, also known as H.3020, is one of the “heartbeat bills,” that has been criticized by many politicians this year, because the fetal heartbeat is detected around six weeks after conception, before many women even realize they are pregnant.
South Carolina made the news again this week when on October 22nd, the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee voted 4-3 to amend the bill so that it would no longer include exceptions for rape or incest. H.3020 still, however, includes an exception for when a pregnancy endangers the life of the mother.
The amendment was introduced by Republican Senator Richard Cash. Cash, on his website, lists “Life” as one of his platforms, stating that “States should lead the fight to challenge Roe vs Wade, and protect the sanctity of life. I will continue to lead the fight in Columbia with Personhood legislation.” His next platform is on the defense of the 2nd Amendment, followed by roads, business, and immigration.
This amendment, along with the spike in heartbeat bills alone, represents an alarming trend in states attempting to limit access to abortion. Additionally, bills like these represent a large attempt to try to overturn Roe vs Wade, as some South Carolina Republicans have already confirmed that the “proposal is part of an effort to spark a legal fight that gives the newly constituted U.S Supreme Court an opportunity to consider overturning Roe v. Wade”, according to CBS news.
The bill faces backlash, such as from the CEO of Women’s Rights Empowerment Network, Ann Warner, who says that “she fears this bill will endanger lives, rather than save them,” according to WIS News.
If the bill became law, doctors would face penalties for performing abortions after the stated term limit, but the legislature has not yet specified what these would be. The full committee is likely to hear it in November, but Governor Henry McMaster has already confirmed that he will sign it into law if is passed by the Senate.