Late Wednesday night, the South Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban most abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy. This is a step toward keeping up a trend in the South of making it harder to get an abortion.
By a vote of 82 to 33, mostly along party lines, the bill was passed. Two Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill. The bill will be taken up by the state Senate next.
Gov. Henry McMaster (R) called the Legislature back into a special session to keep working on the bill. The bill would ban most abortions after a fetus or embryo’s heartbeat can be found, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The bill passed the chamber only after Democrats fought hard against it and made more than 1,000 changes to it. Lawmakers talked about the bill for days.
This year, the state Senate did not pass a bill that the state House had already passed that would have banned abortions. In April, three Republican senators did not vote for the bill.
A similar state law from 2021 that would have banned most abortions after six weeks was thrown out of court in January because it went against the state constitution’s rights for privacy.
South Carolina’s decision to ban abortions after six weeks comes after North Carolina lawmakers decided to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) veto and ban most abortions in the state after 12 weeks.
A major anti-abortion group, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, was happy that South Carolina moved the bill forward.
“It will be a huge step forward for South Carolina to pass a heartbeat law that can stand up in court,” said Caitlin Connors, the group’s Southern regional director, in a statement. “We’re glad that Gov. Henry McMaster called lawmakers back, and we’re looking forward to the Senate sending the heartbeat bill to his desk quickly.”