South Carolina lawmakers moved one step closer to banning abortion from the point of conception, after approving a bill 83-31 on Wednesday.
The Human Life Protection Act, as written, would ban abortion in the state, as the South Carolina Constitution guarantees that nobody should be “deprived of life without due process of law.”
In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively ending recognition of a constitutional right to abortion and giving individual states the power to allow, limit, or ban the practice altogether.
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The ruling came in the court’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which centered on a Mississippi law that banned abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Republican-led state of Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to strike down a lower court ruling that stopped the 15-week abortion ban from taking place.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion that it would end the opinion where it began, and that the Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion.
“Roe and Casey arrogated that authority,” he opined. “We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
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South Carolina’s proposed bill to ban abortion makes note of the Supreme Court’s decision and that the state is exercising its political power to secure the rights to life for unborn children.
The law prohibits anyone from administering, prescribing, delivering, or selling drugs or substances to a pregnant woman that would cause an abortion.
Likewise, the bill bans anyone from using instruments or devices to perform an abortion.
There are exceptions written into the law as proposed, such as if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or if there is a fatal fetal anomaly that has been confirmed by two physicians.
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The law also states that any physician who performs or induces an abortion because of rape must reported the allegation to the county sheriff no more than 24 hours after the procedure is performed. The physician is also required to preserve a DNA sample from the fetal remains and hold it as evidence under the Preservation of Evidence Act.
As for penalties, anyone who violates the law could be fined up to $10,000 and serve up to two years in prison.
Josiah Magnuson, a Republican member of the State House of Representatives said on Wednesday that he suggested stiffer penalties and up to 10 years for a first-time offense, and 25 years for a second, or any subsequent offense.
He explained that the way the law is written currently, South Carolina would have the weakest penalties for abortion of the states that have taken action to ban the practice.
Magnuson said he wants to save as many lives as he can, and when abortion is considered murder, it should be treated as such.
With a vote of 83-31, the House of Representatives passed the bill and will now send it to the State Senate for consideration.
In 2021, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed the Fetal Heartbeat Act into law, prohibiting abortion once a fetus’s heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs around six weeks of pregnancy.
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The state’s Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional.
Writing for the majority, Justice Kaye Hearn said, “We hold that the decision to terminate a pregnancy rest upon the utmost personal and private considerations imaginable, and implicates a woman’s right to privacy. While this right is not absolute and must be balanced against the State’s interest in protecting unborn life, this Act, which severely limits — and in many instances completely forecloses — abortion, is an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy, and is therefore unconstitutional.”