The Republican-led push to nearly ban the abortion procedure in South Carolina is over for now

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – Less than three months after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court opened the door for states to settle the issue of abortion for themselves, a Republican-led push to nearly ban the procedure in South Carolina has been called off for the time being.

Despite this, on Thursday, during a special session of the state Senate, a bill was approved that modifies and adds further limits to South Carolina’s existing ban on abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy. The law was passed by a vote of 27 in favor, 16 against, with practically all Republicans voting in favor of it, while two Republicans joined all of the Democrats except for one in voting against it.

The legislation passed by the Senate represents a significant departure from the legislation that the House of Representatives approved for a near-ban the previous week. As a result, the House of Representatives will next deliberate on whether to accept the changes made by the Senate and send the bill to the governor or to further amend the bill.

The “Fetal Heartbeat Law” that is now in effect in the state outlaws most abortions once fetal heart activity has been found, which normally occurs at around the sixth week of pregnancy. However, the Supreme Court of South Carolina has temporarily barred its enforcement, and as a result, abortions in the state are lawful before 20 weeks of pregnancy at this time.

The language in the existing law that the Supreme Court cited in its decision to issue a temporary injunction on the “Fetal Heartbeat Law” last month was changed as part of the legislation that was approved by the Senate on Thursday. This was done in an effort to reduce the likelihood of future legal challenges.

Although the majority of abortions are illegal after approximately six weeks, the law does make exceptions for certain situations, including when the mother’s life or health are in danger, when the mother is a victim of rape or incest, or in cases of fatal fetal anomalies, when a doctor determines that the fetus would not be able to survive outside of the womb. However, these exceptions are extremely limited.

The law that was approved by the Senate reduces the amount of time that an exception can be made for rape and incest from 20 weeks to the duration of the first trimester, which is around 13 weeks.

When abortions are carried out under those conditions, individuals are required to disclose any suspicions of rape or incest to the appropriate authorities within the first twenty-four hours after the procedure. Within the first ninety days after an abortion, a physician must collect a DNA sample from the fetus that was aborted and provide it to law enforcement so that it can be stored as evidence. This provision was added to the measure by the Senate.

It increases from one to two the number of doctors who need to sign off on the abortion, verifying that the fetus could not survive outside of the womb, in situations where there are fatal fetal deformities.

The proposal proposed by the Senate would also enshrine a ban on the practice of sending state funds to Planned Parenthood and then using those funds to pay for abortions, with the exception of situations in which a pregnancy is the result of sexual assault. These bans are often included in the state budget on a yearly basis as a form of temporary law.

The senators began their debate — which would continue for over 20 hours over the course of two days — with legislation in front of them that would ban almost all abortions, with the exception of situations in which the mother’s life or health would be in danger.

However, within the majority party of the chamber’s Republicans, there was a sharp divide between those who backed a bill that included exceptions for survivors of sexual assault and those who desired a bill that made no exceptions. There were numerous attempts to change the measure in order to include these exemptions, but all of them were ultimately unsuccessful.

When it became clear that there was not enough support in the Senate to overcome challenges to a near-ban, even with exceptions, Republican leaders stated that it became clear that there was not enough support in the chamber to overcome a filibuster. Democrats and four Republicans, including all three of the chamber’s Republican women, opposed the passage of such a restrictive bill.

At that moment, Republicans shifted their tactic to altering the six-week moratorium, which won them the backing of two Republicans who had opposed the proposal in the past.

A spokesman for Governor Henry McMaster issued the following comment after the bill was passed by the Senate: “The Senate’s bill – just like the House bill – achieves an appropriate balance. The Governor has expressed his optimism that the House of Representatives and the Senate would soon reach a compromise and send a bill to his office for his signature.

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