South Carolina lawmakers reject watered-down pro-life bill

House representatives in South Carolina have refused to accept a watered-down law from the Senate that failed to protect all preborn babies in the state from abortion, leaving the current law, which restricts abortion at 20 weeks, in place for now.

During a special legislative session on Tuesday, pro-life legislators in the House of Representatives voiced disappointment with the version of the law that was passed by the Senate earlier this month, saying it did not go far enough to protect preborn babies. The House had previously passed a bill to protect most preborn children from abortion beginning at fertilization, but the Senate rejected it. Instead, some Republican senators joined Democrats in choosing to add limits to the state’s current pro-life law which restricts abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy, reducing the amount of time rape survivors can get an abortion from 20 weeks to 12 weeks, and allowing abortion for rape, incest, the life of the mother (see more here on this), and fetal diagnosis. That law is currently blocked by the state Supreme Court during ongoing litigation. The changes to the law were sent to the House for approval.

“I support a stronger pro-life bill. But once we realized it was not possible to pass, our primary concern became to protect the most lives of the unborn possible by strengthening the fetal heartbeat law that is in current legal jeopardy,” Republican Senate President Thomas Alexander said in a statement.

Pro-life representatives, however, did not want to accept this watered-down version of the current law because they want to protect all preborn children from abortion, not return to a pre-Roe abortion law. Believing it will be difficult to pass a stronger pro-life bill in January if they accepted the Senate’s proposed law, they decided to reject it altogether rather than concede ground.


Rep. John McCravy, the Republican sponsor of the House bill, said he was shocked to see the loss of support for preborn babies after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June by the Supreme Court. “We thought those that ran on pro-life would be pro-life, and they would stick to their ideological positions,” McCravy said.

As reported by ABC News, during the House vote on Tuesday, legislators felt they could not agree to the bill and it failed 95 to 11. Pro-life House members insisted on stronger protections for preborn babies. The bill would have made induced abortion illegal and anyone found guilty of committing an induced abortion would have faced a fine of $10,000 and up to two years in jail. Abortionists would have also had to report an abortion committed in cases of rape within 24 hours to the county sheriff with the name and contact information of the woman and a DNA sample of the aborted child.

Rep. Adam Morgan explained that the bill that came back from the Senate “basically left the law the same as if Roe had never been overturned and we were not okay with that. We are demanding a bill that protects all lives in South Carolina.”

Though the House vote could mean the bill is dead for this session, there is a chance that the Senate could come back and insist on its version. According to reports, a group of three lawmakers from each chamber could then work on a compromise between the Senate bill and the House bill — something Alexander called “almost impossible” without enough votes for a pro-life law restricting abortion earlier than six weeks.

Editor’s Note 10/3/22: This article was updated with more details on the proposed bills and the title was altered.

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