Heartbeat abortion ban may finally pass in South Carolina

Heartbeat abortion ban may finally pass in South Carolina



COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are again considering a bill that would ban most abortions in the state and it seems much more likely to pass this time thanks to conservative gains in the General Assembly and at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ban on abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks after conception, have passed in several other states, but can't be enforced because of court challenges.

For years, the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act ” has made it through the House and all the way to the full Senate. But backers could not get two-thirds of senators to agree to overcome a procedural hurdle and vote on the ban. Some supporters of the bill were also hesitant to pass it because of the risk and expense of having it thrown out by the courts.

Two things changed in late 2020. Republicans picked up three Senate seats from Democrats and boosted their majority to 30 of the chamber's 46 seats. And there was the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a reliable U.S. Supreme Court vote against stricter abortion bans. She was replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, widely expected to be a conservative abortion opponent when she rules.

Firmly in the Bible Belt, South Carolina was at the forefront of stricter abortion laws before the turn of the century. But lately, conservatives have been frustrated as nearly a dozen other states — including neighboring Georgia, nearby Tennessee and further off Missouri — passed the stricter bans. The laws are all tied up in courts

“I can’t believe we are still having this conversation," said Chris Smith, the state coordinator for the National Day of Prayer. “We’ve been at this a while. It’s time to get it passed.”

One sign of the greater likelihood of passage this year was the small group of senators...

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