Feb 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

South Carolina governor signs bill banning most abortions in the state

Photo of the front of the South Carolina State House

The South Carolina statehouse. Photo: Epics via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed a bill into law on Thursday banning most abortions in the state.

Driving the news: Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in response, effectively blocking the measure from going into effect.

  • The House passed the bill by a 79-35 vote on Wednesday, and gave final approval in a second vote Thursday.
  • South Carolina joins about a dozen other states that have passed similar legislation in recent years.

Details: The"South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act" requires physicians to check for a heartbeat in the fetus.

  • If a heartbeat is detected — which typically occurs between six and eight weeks after conception — an abortion can be pursued only if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the pregnant person's life is in danger.
  • In cases of rape or incest, doctors who offer the procedure are required to report the crime to local law enforcement.
  • A pregnant person would not be punished for having an illegal abortion, but anyone who performs the operation may be charged with a felony, sentenced up to two years in jail and fined $10,000 if found guilty.

Yes, but: Opponents say many people don't know they are pregnant even after the six- to eight-week mark.

The big picture, via AP: "All of the bans passed by other states are tied up in court challenges."

  • Advocates of prohibitive abortion measures are working to get the issue to the Supreme Court in hopes that the justices would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • The Supreme Court previously ruled that abortions are legal until a fetus is viable outside the womb — months after a heartbeat may be observed.

Go deeper: Life after Roe v. Wade

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