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South Carolina lawmakers pass 6-week abortion ban

The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy — when most people know they’re pregnant — and sent it to the governor, who has promised to sign it.

The proposal reinstated a ban South Carolina held when the U.S. Supreme Court held turned upside down Roe v. Wade last year—a ban that, once in effect, was overturned by the state’s highest court because it violated the state constitution’s right to privacy.

Republicans are looking for answers to that ruling because it kept abortions legal through 22 weeks of pregnancy and sharply increased the number of abortions in South Carolina as other Southern states enacted tougher laws.

The bill includes exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies, patient life and health, and rape or molestation up to 12 weeks. Doctors can face felony charges that carry up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

“I look forward to signing this bill as soon as possible,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, a Republican, tweeted Tuesday night.

South Carolina bans abortion

Protesters and lawmakers gather with signs and placards in the lobby of the South Carolina Statehouse on May 16, 2023, where South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster called the state House back into session to debate a revised version of the state Senate’s 6-week abortion bill. Prohibited bill.

Sean Rayford/Sopa Images/Lightrocket via Getty Images

Rep. Nancy Mays, Republican of South Carolina told CBS News Last week he opposed the bill, specifically citing police reporting requirements for victims of sexual assault.

“I would not support this particular piece of legislation because of the police reporting requirement,” Mays said. “I’m a rape victim myself. I was raped as a teenager when I was 16. I couldn’t live with myself if I had to report it to the police. Most rape victims don’t report it. It’s a very painful experience. And coercion is endemic. Reporting to the sheriffs is wrong. That’s a non-starter.”

He also criticized the bill’s 12-week abortion limit for rape and molestation victims, noting that the bill requires two doctors to certify that the exceptions are met.

“It’s very difficult, especially on women and girls who have been raped or who have been abused,” Mace said. “That’s wrong. And most Americans today aren’t there, Republican or Democrat or independent. They’re not there with a six-week ban. They’re at 15 weeks. They’re at 20 weeks, without exception.”

The Republican-led Senate’s chance to pass the bill came after the South Carolina House backed down. a proposal Almost completely prohibiting abortion during pregnancy. Senators were unable to get a vote in favor of that proposal after three separate attempts.

The vote came after three Republican women in the Senate urged other members of their party to take up the 12-week abortion ban as they battled additional restrictions a month after helping to filibuster a nearly full ban. They joined all Democrats in voting against the bill.

In explosive speeches, the three Republican women said the 12-week proposal didn’t give women enough time to make decisions, and they criticized changes like requiring child support early in pregnancy as ridiculous. Republican state Sen. Katrina Shealy supported the 12-week ban as a “real compromise.”

Republicans said they tweaked parts of the new law so it could pass judicial review. He had to retire because of age even after the author of the leading 3-2 state Supreme Court opinion overturned the ban.

Shealy and Republican state Sen. Penry Gustafson pushed back, claiming that they were not true Christians because of their positions.

“We in the South Carolina Legislature are not God. We don’t know what’s going on in somebody else’s life. We don’t have the right to make decisions for somebody else,” Shealy said.

House Republicans also eliminated a portion of the measure that would have allowed minors to petition the court for an abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

Republican Majority Leader Shane Massey outlined new regulations and definitions inserted by the Republican-dominated South Carolina House last week that were slowed by hundreds of amendments from Democrats over two days.

The female senators entered the State House en masse Tuesday to cheers from dozens of abortion rights supporters gathered on the main floor. Five donation buttons that read “Select more women.”

This week marks the fourth time the chamber has taken up abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022. During last month’s filibuster, five women repeatedly criticized the male leadership for calling the debate Speaking consistently from the well, they sometimes talked about the physical changes that occur during pregnancy or highlighted different issues they wanted to address.

The Senate’s 15 Democrats, both united against abortion bans, have largely let the Republican majority debate the issue among themselves. Opponents argue that South Carolina’s high maternal mortality rate — along with poorer outcomes among black patients — will worsen under the new restrictions.

Abortion is currently legal in South Carolina at 22 weeks, although other regulations largely block access after the first trimester at the state’s three clinics. But the law remains unchanged amid disagreements among Republicans over how far to limit access that have recently moved toward resolution.

Republican leaders cited provisional state health department data showing a rising number of abortions in South Carolina.

The move comes a week after Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly Moved into law The 12-week abortion ban — which overrode a Democratic governor’s veto — pushed Virginia closer to becoming the last state in the region with relatively easy access.

Lawmakers anticipate legal challenges to any ban that eventually becomes law. The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down a similar 2021 law in a 3-2 decision this January as violating the state constitution’s right to privacy. But many Republicans believe the latest version will stand after changes to both the language of the proposal and the makeup of the court.

The fight over abortion

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