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South Carolina House rejects bill to ban abortions with few exceptions

(COLUMBIA, SC) — The South Carolina House rejected a bill Tuesday that would’ve banned nearly all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected. The proposed ban would have made exceptions for when the mother’s life or health is in danger, for fetuses with fatal anomalies and first-trimester pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest.

The bill was introduced by the state Senate in September after it rejected an abortion ban proposed by the House. The proposed legislation comes as the state Supreme Court blocked a six-week ban on abortion from going into effect amid ongoing litigation.

The bill failed with a vote of 95 to 11, as lawmakers remain at odds over regulating abortion in the state.

The bill would have made it illegal to perform an abortion or administer or distribute drugs that induce an abortion. A person found guilty of providing an abortion would have faced a fine of $10,000 and jail time of up to two years.

The proposed bill would have also required physicians who provide abortion services in line with the exceptions for rape or incest to report the procedure to their county sheriff’s department within 24 hours of performing or inducing the abortion.

Physicians would have been required to report the name and contact information for the woman making the allegation and to preserve a DNA sample from the fetal remains and submit it as evidence to authorities.

The bill required abortion providers to add a note to the patient’s medical records stating that the abortion was performed under one of the exceptions.

Under the bill, Planned Parenthood would’ve also been prevented from utilizing state funds for any purposes related to abortions.

In August, the state House passed a near-total ban on abortion which only provided exceptions for pregnancies that are a result of rape and incest. The state Senate rejected the bill, passing its own abortion bill and sending it back to the House.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster had signaled he would sign an abortion ban into law, telling ABC News in August that he would “carefully consider any legislation that ultimately reaches his desk, but he believes this is a good starting point for the Senate to begin its deliberations,” referring to the first House bill.

McMaster also approved in February 2021 a package of bills banning abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected. The ban took effect after Roe was overturned, but is now blocked by the South Carolina Supreme Court while justices review a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood in July. The lawsuit claims that the ban is an invasion of privacy and violation of equal protection under the state constitution.

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