Near total abortion ban with no rape, incest exceptions advances to SC House floor

Maayan Schechter, The State on

Published in Political News

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Republican-led House panel advanced legislation Tuesday that would outlaw nearly all abortions in South Carolina but make an exception for the life and health of the mother.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 13-7 largely along party lines Tuesday to send H. 5399 to the House floor for what is expected to be a contentious debate.

Five legislators, two of whom did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, did not vote on the bill.

“What we do matters,” said a visibly emotional Pickens County Rep. Neal Collins, one of three Republicans who did not vote on the bill, before his remarks were cut short by Judiciary Chairman Chris Murphy, R-Dorchester. “Out of respect for the process, I’m not voting today. But I want to be clear that myself and many others are not in a position to vote for this bill without significant changes to the bill.”

Legislators are scheduled to return to session Aug. 30, with the Senate to follow after Labor Day.

The legislation outlaws nearly all abortions, but does list different medical emergencies for which doctors can perform abortions to protect the life and health of the mother. Rape and incest exceptions are not included, though they are currently allowed under the state’s six-week abortion ban and their removal is unlikely to get wide support in the Senate. The bill does not include specific language related to fetal anomalies, an exception included in current law.


State Rep. John McCravy, a Greenwood Republican who led the bill’s drafting, said the legislation does not aim to prohibit contraception or restrict assisted reproductive treatment, like in vitro fertilization. Nor, he said, does it seek to subject women who seek abortions to prosecution or restrict interstate travel.

“This bill does not mimic the language of any model bill or any other bill in the nation,” said McCravy, chairman of the Family Caucus that advocates for conservative legislation. “This bill is not the result of any national group effort. It is completely unique to the state of South Carolina, and only gives special status to the input of medical professionals in our state.”

The law does, however, closely mirror what other states have passed after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark case that constitutionally protected the right to have an abortion.

Current law in South Carolina allows for abortions until fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically occurring at around six weeks of pregnancy when, abortion rights advocates argue, most women don’t know that they are pregnant.


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