South Carolina legislators advance ‘heartbeat bill’ to protect preborn children

South Carolina, heartbeat

A South Carolina Senate committee has advanced a bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state, with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. (See more here on why abortion is not medically necessary.) The bill is the state’s own version of the “heartbeat bill,” banning abortion after an ultrasound detects the preborn child’s heartbeat, which is usually around six weeks of gestation. The bill has already passed the House and next heads to the full Senate for a vote.

According to Charleston’s The Post and Courier, the bill passed the Senate Medical Affairs Committee with a vote of 9 to 6. The passage only came after exceptions for rape and incest were added into the draft, although those exceptions only apply if the crimes are reported. If the bill passes and goes into effect, abortion providers who violate the law could face a $10,000 fine and up to two years in jail.

READ: ACOG ‘early pregnancy loss’ bulletin indicates preborn child’s heartbeat is evidence of life


As committee members debated the bill, the topic of allowing an exception for abortions in circumstances of rape and incest was a hot-button issue. Some, like Sen. Richard Cash, fought to keep the exclusion language out of the bill altogether.

“Killing an unborn baby will kill the life of an innocent human being,” Cash said. “I’m not one to say which is the greater trauma. It’s not as if abortion is going to erase the trauma of the rape, but the abortion might be its own trauma.”

Cash’s foes dismissed his arguments. “With one exception, none of us can become pregnant even through rape or incest,” countered Sen. Kevin Johnson, referencing the fact that the committee was made up of just one woman. “That’s being very hard on a woman. You’re pregnant for something as ugly as rape or incest, but you have to have that child?”

Johnson’s argument is a common, albeit misguided attempt at compassion. Cash is indeed right that abortion causes immense pain and suffering, even for rape victims. As seen here, here, and here, abortion is not a compassionate response to rape; instead, it can cause significant long-term trauma.

Regardless of whether or not the rape and incest exclusion remains in the final bill, Governor Henry McMaster has indicated that he will sign the bill should it pass the Senate. The Washington Times reports that should the bill pass, it would make South Carolina the tenth state to enact such a law.

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