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SC Senate Considering Ending Abortion Coverage for Rape, Incest

A South Carolina State Senate panel has decided to end state employee insurance coverage for abortions pursued because of rape or incest.

In a 3-2 vote that fell along party lines, the Republican proposal would only allow for funds to go to an abortion if the woman's life was endangered.

Republican State Senator David L. Thomas, one of the panel members who voted for the measure, told The Christian Post that abortion access was not the issue with the proposal.

"Nothing has changed about getting an abortion," said Thomas. "A woman seeking an abortion for any reason would still be able to procure those services."

"This only has to do with funding of an abortion."

According to Thomas, another crucial component of the measure approved by the panel is that of the issue conscience for those who are opposed to performing an abortion.

"The essence of the bill is the conscience provisions which protect an employee from being terminated if that worker protests his participation in an abortion procedure or the destruction of embryonic life," said Thomas.

"Thus there are two parts to the bill. The major issue is the conscience provision and thrown in was another bill in House Committee which added the State Health Plan insurance coverage language."

Democratic State Senator Bradley Hutto, a panel member who voted against the measure, told CP that the panel's vote "unfairly targets victims of rape and incest who are covered on State insurance coverage."

"Many of us believe that it is the right of a woman, in consultation with her family, her spiritual adviser and her doctor to decide when and if an abortion is appropriate for her and her unborn child," said Hutto.

Hutto believed that "Republicans are routinely held hostage to the dictates of the 'right to life' lobby and generally always vote the party line to avoid challenges in their primary."

"It does not endanger women's health. The rights to have an abortion are no different before or after passage of this bill," said State Sen. Thomas.

"This is purely a payment question: shall the state under its health plan pay for abortions covered by the Hyde amendment or shall the state only cover an abortion which endangers the life of the mother?"

Currently, South Carolina works under the Hyde Amendment, which means state employee insurance does not provide funds for an abortion except in the event of rape, incest or life of the mother.

After passing the panel, the bill will next have to pass a vote in the Medical Affairs Committee, which is comprised of 10 Republicans and seven Democrats.

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