- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2019

South Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban nearly all abortions in the state — and likely trigger a lawsuit in state or federal court, as have anti-abortion laws enacted this year in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia.

A South Carolina Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks of pregnancy and often before the person knows they are pregnant.

The state Senate Medical Affairs Committee added an exemption for the ban in the case of rape, incest or when the pregnant person’s life is in danger — a provision that the state House excluded from its version of the bill, approved in April.

Republicans control both chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has said he will sign the legislation, which would make South Carolina the 10th state to enact an abortion ban.

Last week, a federal court blocked the near-total abortion ban in Alabama from taking effect, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to issue a press release with the title, “Us: 7. Abortion bans: 0.”

Similar laws have been tied up in courts in Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah and Ohio.

Over the last four years, states have paid $9.8 million to legal teams representing Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers after legislatures enacted anti-abortion legislation that was overturned in the courts, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Those figures do not include costs for the states’ own legal teams.

Pro-life activists and lawmakers have sought to enact stringent abortion restrictions in hopes of prompting a legal challenge that goes to the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority might weaken or overturn Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision that legalized abortion.

On Monday, Mr. McMaster told a CBS News podcast that he believes there to be “no constitutional right” for abortion.

A spokesperson for Mr. McMaster did not respond to a request for comment about who will pay litigation costs if the legislation becomes law and is challenged in court.

In Tuesday’s committee hearing, legislators sparred over whether to include exceptions for rape and incest, stumbling blocks for the bill’s passage in the wider legislature.

“Rape and incest are horrible crimes and cause great pain and suffering,” said Republican state Sen. Richard Cash. “However, there are other considerations that should be acknowledged as well.”

Mr. Cash, the bill’s sponsor, said ending the life of an unborn child conceived through incest or rape is unfair because “that baby is just as much a baby as any other.”

“Some people can hope with that and some people can’t,” said Democratic state Sen. Kevin Johnson. “We could potentially have these mothers messed up psychologically for the rest of their lives.”

The committee voted 9-6 to send the bill onto the full Senate, which is expected to consider the legislation in 2020.

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