The Judiciary Committee of the South Carolina Senate has voted in favor of a bill entitled “South Caroline Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” and it has gone to the floor of the Senate which passed the bill.

This is NOT a pro-choice bill.

It provides for a mandatory ultrasound with a display of the images, and a recorded written medical description of the images, of the unborn child’s fetal heartbeat.

If the pregnancy is at least 8 weeks after fertilization, the abortion provider must tell the woman that she can listen to the embryonic or fetal heartbeat and must give a written report stating that the fetus has a detectable heartbeat and, to the best of the doctor’s knowledge (or based on statistical data available) the fetus will survive to term based on the gestational age of the fetus.

Most importantly, it provides that no person shall perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion before a physician determines whether the human fetus has a detectable fetal heartbeat and that if a fetal heartbeat is detected, no person can perform, induce, or attempt to perform or induce an abortion.

Violations are punishable by a find of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than two years.

Exceptions cover medical emergencies which must be noted by a doctor (including the potential death of the women or a serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman), rape, incest, fetal anomaly or lack of fetal heartbeat.

Abortions performed due to rape or incest must be reported by the doctor to the sheriff’s office.

The bill also creates a cause of action for a woman on whom an abortion was performed in violation of the law, and a woman to whom the mandatory information was not given. The bill specifies that any such woman can claim damages of $10,000, or an amount awarded by the judge, including court costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Next Steps

  • The bill will be sent to the House
  • The House will assign it to a committee
  • Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the bill and vote on it
  • If passed in subcommittee, the bill will be considered by the full committee
  • If passed by committee, the bill will go to the House floor
  • On the floor, the bill will receive three readings, and House members will have a chance to debate
  • If the bill is passed on the House floor with new amendments, the House and Senate will conference to resolve differences. Thereafter, both chambers would vote on the agreed bill.
  • If the bill is passed on the House floor without amendments, it will be sent to the governor’s desk. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has vowed to sign the bill into law.

STAY TUNED. We are following this bill closely, and we will be in contact with a letter writing campaign as soon we feel it necessary to do so.

To help us defeat this bill and other similar bills, join our Reproductive Justice Team. Send an email to Salli Swartz [email protected]