(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
South Carolina's House of Representatives voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. If the bill passes the Senate and is approved by Gov. Nikki Haley, South Carolina will become the 13th state to enact such a ban.
The Republican-dominated House voted 84-29 Wednesday to approve House Bill 4223, also known as the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," that bans doctors from performing an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother's life is in grave danger. The bill is based on the highly-debated medical argument that a fetus can feel pan at 20 weeks post-fertilization.
The bill needs another perfunctory House vote before it can head to the state's Senate, which also carries a Republican majority.
Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville), the bill's sponsor, argues that dozens of medical studies suggest 20-week old fetuses do feel pain. "We had over 60 studies introduced to us in committee that [showed] they do feel pain. And the state has a right to step in and protect that child."
Those opposing the bill argue it's a political grab for Republican representatives, as the entire House is up for re-election this year and some GOP members may be seeking to further cement their standing with conservative voters by passing such a bill.
Rep. Nanney defended her motive with the bill in a recent interview, saying she has always been pro-life. "I've always been pro-life," she said. "I would rather err on the side of protecting that baby from pain."
Those opposing the bill also argue the legislation is unnecessary, as abortion clinics in the state do not perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Rather, these late-term abortions are performed in hospitals by physicians, and the bill would further inhibit a woman's relationship with her doctor.
"I find it ironic that in the middle of Women's History Month we are debating a bill that will severely limit a woman's right to make decisions that are rightly between her and her family and her physician," Democratic Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, who opposes the bill, said during Wednesday's debate.
As the The Post and Courier reports, the South Carolina legislature is reportedly facing several anti-abortion measures this session, and lawmakers suggest House Bill 4223 may be the most likely candidate for approval.
South Carolina would join Nebraska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas in enacting a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, should its bill be made law.