Lawmakers debate Fetal Heartbeat Bill Tuesday, pass amendment to add exceptions of rape, incest

COLUMBIA (WOLO): A highly contentious bill made its way to the senate floor Tuesday afternoon. The Fetal Heartbeat Bill, as it stands, would not allow an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, unless the mother’s life is at risk. 

In his State of the State address earlier this month Governor McMaster said he’s ready to sign the fetal heartbeat bill into law as soon as lawmakers bring it to his desk. After today, we’re still not sure how much closer we are to that happening.

What stood out the most though, was an amendment that would add back in the exceptions of rape and incest. 

Senator Sandy Senn, (R) Charleston said,”There will never ever be an abortion bill that does not include rape exceptions that will ever have my vote.”

It was perhaps the most divisive issue other than the bill itself on the senate floor Tuesday. Senator Sandy Senn proposed amendment 10, which adds three new exceptions to the abortion ban, including fetal anomaly. “If we don’t include the fetal anomaly exception, we are forcing a mother to jeopardize her life by carrying the child to term, and we’re forcing the baby to have a very sad short existence.” 

Republican Senator Richard Cash, Anderson, however, believes passing this amendment would draw an arbitrary line on the fetal heartbeat. “At that point you begin to destroy the very  foundation of the pro-life argument. Everybody counts or nobody counts. You can’t pick and choose which life is valuable, which life is more important than the next life.”

He acknowledged it’s an uncomfortable vote. “

Just outside the state house doors, were signs, honks, and voices standing up against the ban. “South Carolina has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country,” said Dr. Kristi Tomlin, M.D., Columbia.

Ann Warner, CEO of Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) said, “thousands of South Carolinians from every walk of life have emailed, texted, called to express their opposition to this bill.”

The senate voted 25 to 17 to carry amendment 10 over for further debate. However, Senator Massey’s amendment did pass Tuesday. It includes exceptions for rape and incest, but not fetal anomaly. The senate is set to reconvene Wednesday. 

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