SC Senate subcommittee passes “fetal heartbeat” bill minus rape, incest exceptions

The bill will now be taken up by the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee before being discussed on the Senate floor

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — A bill that would ban virtually all abortions six weeks after conception in South Carolina moves closer to being discussed on the Senate floor.

The Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee passed an amended version of the bill, which is now minus the rape and incest exception, in a 4-3 vote along party lines.

The bill is now going to be discussed by the full Medical Affairs committee before it could be brought up on the Senate floor.

Unlike the bill that passed the House, the bill the committee will review is without the rape and incest exception, an amendment that also passed along party lines.

“Everybody acknowledges that rape and incest are terrible crimes. However, the little baby, the boy or the girl, is still an innocent life and life is still the most valuable right we have as human beings,” said Sen. Richard Cash (R-Anderson County), who proposed to the subcommittee that the exception be removed.

The rape and incest exception was first added when the bill was discussed among the SC House of Representatives. House Bill 3020 passed in the House back in April with a vote of 70-31.

Now that the rape and incest exception has been removed from House Bill 3020, the only way a woman could get an abortion if the bill passes is if a pregnancy is deemed life-threatening.

“Even that exception has placed physicians in a very difficult situation. No physician would be willing to sign off on that exception, so essentially what we passed today is an all-out ban on abortions in South Carolina,” said Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston County).

Senator Margie Bright Matthews (D-Colleton County), who voted against the bill, says she’s disappointed in how the process has been carried out, calling it a farce.

“They want to move it along because they feel before 2020, they have the numbers. We’re pretty close in the Senate and I think that’s going to give them concerns. That’s the real reason why they’re pushing this along.”

Some Senators say pushing this bill forward is a good step for those looking to protect the sanctity of life. However, Sen. Cash says if the rape and incest exception is put back into the bill, then he would not vote for it.

Others say they will do all they can to fight this bill on the Senate floor.

“All we can do in the minority party is use the procedural tools available to us to have robust debate,” Sen. Kimpson said.

The four Senators who voted in favor of the bill on the subcommittee were Sen. Cash, Senator Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg County, also the subcommittee chair), Senator Tom Corbin (R-Greenville County), and Senator Michael Gambrell (R-Anderson County).

The three Senators who voted against the bill were Senator Kimpson, Senator Bright Matthews, and Senator Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon County).

The chairman of the Medical Affairs Committee is Senator Danny Verdin (R-Laurens County).

Some Senators believe the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee will meet at some point in the next few weeks to discuss the bill further, then move it along to the Senate floor in January.

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