Update 5/23/23: The South Carolina Senate on Tuesday voted to pass Senate Bill 474, the “Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.” The bill would protect preborn children from abortion after about six weeks, when an embryonic heartbeat is detectable, though a preborn child’s heart first begins to beat 16 to 21 days post-fertilization. The Senate voted 27-19.
The bill will now go to the desk of Gov. Henry McMaster.
5/23/23: Lawmakers in the South Carolina House last week passed a bill that would protect most preborn children from abortion after six weeks.
Senate Bill 474, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” prohibits abortions after the preborn child’s heartbeat is detectable — this usually occurs around six weeks, though the heart actually starts beating as early as at just 16-21 days post-fertilization. The bill passed by an 82-33 vote, largely along party lines with two Democrats joining Republicans.
Though the bill previously passed the Senate in February, the Senate now needs to approve changes to the bill made by the House before it is sent to Governor Henry McMaster for signature. McMaster has called the Senate back for a special session this week to debate the bill.
According to CNN, Democratic lawmakers filed more than 1,000 amendments to the bill in order to slow its progress.
“We have no intention of pulling any amendments. We are going to make it hurt if they are going to force this on us,” Democratic state Rep. Beth Bernstein said. “[T]he reason these amendments are being filed is so we can have that voice and so people can understand what we’re doing at the statehouse is we’re effectively banning abortion,” she added.
Republican lawmakers defeated each amendment after 24 hours of debate split over two days.
The pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America praised the bill.
“Enacting a heartbeat law that can withstand legal challenges will be a giant step forward for South Carolina,” Caitlin Connors, the group’s Southern regional director, told The Hill. “We thank Gov. Henry McMaster for calling legislators back and look forward to the Senate swiftly sending the heartbeat bill to his desk.”
This legislation is not the first time the state has passed a “heartbeat bill.” Lawmakers passed a similar bill in 2021, but it was struck down by the South Carolina Supreme Court in January 2023, which ruled that the law violated a person’s constitutional right to privacy. The New York Times reports that one of the justices has retired since that opinion, meaning should this bill become law, there may be a different outcome if it is challenged once again.
Did you know that as little as $10 a month is enough to reach more than 3,000 people with the truth about abortion that no one else is telling them? Click here to start saving lives 365 days a year.