South Carolina House Considering Fetal Pain-Based Abortion Restriction

A bill meant to ban abortions for fetuses capable of feeling pain has passed a South Carolina House of Representatives committee.

H. 4223 was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and will soon go before the full House for debate.

Known also as the "South Carolina Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," the proposed legislation would ban most abortions after 20 weeks due to some indications that this is when the typical fetus can feel pain.

"No person shall perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion upon a woman when it has been determined … that the probable post-fertilization age of the woman's unborn child is twenty or more weeks," reads H. 4223 in part.

"…unless, in reasonable medical judgment, she has a condition which so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions."

Holly Gatling, executive director for the South Carolina Citizens for Life, told The Christian Post that H. 4223 "creates a compelling state interest in protecting unborn children from abortion when they are capable of feeling pain."

"It is a fetal pain bill. There is now substantial medical evidence which demonstrates that pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child's entire body and that nerves link these receptors to the brain's thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 week," said Gatling.

"South Carolina Citizens for Life is quarterbacking this bill in our State General Assembly and we are very pleased that it has passed the House Judiciary Committee."

Chiefly sponsored by Republican Representative Wendy Nanney of Greenville, H. 4223 was introduced and referred to the Judiciary Committee last May.

Throughout February the proposed legislation garnered several names of South Carolina representatives as additional sponsors.

"The bill also would require physicians to determine the age of the fetus before performing an abortion; report the pregnant woman's age, race, and the method of abortion; and establish criminal penalties for doctors, making it a felony to break the law," reported Jamie Self of the South Carolina publication The State.

The proposed legislation has its share of critics, including Planned Parenthood Health Systems vice president Melissa Reed, who said in a statement that H. 4223 was a "dangerous and extreme bill."

"(T)he reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is very rare and often happens under heartbreaking and tragic circumstances. Politicians have no place in that conversation," said Reed.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, referred to H. 4223 as a "waste" of time as it will likely be declared unconstitutional if passed and then legally challenged.

"South Carolina legislators shouldn't waste taxpayer dollars passing anti-choice bills that are clearly unconstitutional [and] that jeopardize [the] health and safety of women," said Saporta, according to WOSC-TV.

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