A bill which would effectively ban abortions in South Carolina advanced to the Senate floor on Tuesday, although it will face stiff resistance from moving forward there.
Lead sponsor State Sen. Richard Cash, R-Anderson, said the goal is to have the potential law’s constitutionality challenged and brought to the U.S. Supreme Court for an updated ruling since its landmark Roe v. Wade decision essentially legalized abortion in 1973.
“We’ve had 45 years of Roe v. Wade. Some people think it can’t be changed, it set a precedent,” he said during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. “In fact, history shows that Supreme Court rulings can be changed and can be reversed. This will give them a chance to reverse it. We are trying to challenge the Supreme Court on their fundamental error that an unborn human being is not a person.”
The legislation defines human life as beginning at fertilization and provides legal protections to a fertilized egg or fetus. It is commonly known as the “Personhood” bill.
Opponents are concerned that the measure does not include any exceptions for when the life of the mother is in danger or in cases of rape or incest. Even some pro-life senators said they were concerned about potential unintended impacts on in vitro fertilization or surgeries to save a pregnant mother’s life.
Cash insisted doctors would not be prosecuted if they treat the mother’s life and the child dies unintentionally.
The bill passed on a 12-9 vote after two hours of debate in the judiciary committee. All the favorable votes were from Republicans, while all the votes against were from Democrats. One GOP senator, State Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, abstained from voting. She said that she thinks the bill is unconstitutional but did not want to vote against a pro-life proposal.
The proposed legislation now goes to the full Senate for debate. Since opponents carry enough votes to essentially filibuster, supporters would need to set it to “special order,” or give it priority status, in order to advance it to the House.