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Gov. McMaster signs fetal heartbeat bill

Governor signs controversial bill banning most abortions

LANDRUM—South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill Thursday that will prevent any woman from getting an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. 

The bill passed with 30 votes in the South Carolina Senate and 79 votes in the South Carolina House. 

Abortion rights groups have already challenged the bill in courts.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has said his office will vigorously defend this law in court because there is nothing more important than protecting life. 

The bill took effect as soon as McMaster signed it into law Thursday afternoon. The bill requires an ultrasound for a detectable fetal heartbeat before an abortion is performed and prevents an abortion if a heartbeat is detected. 

There are exceptions to the bill, including in certain medical emergencies that would necessitate an immediate abortion to avert the mother’s death or testing for a fetal heartbeat would create a delay that puts the mother at serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. 

Other exceptions to the bill include pregnancies from rape or incest and if the fetus was under 20 weeks old from conception, according to the bill. 

“If there’s not a right to life, then what rights is there,” McMaster said Thursday prior to signing the bill into law. “What rights exists, if not the elementary, fundamental, profound right to life.” 

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood said they will file a lawsuit in federal court against the bill. 

The Center for Reproductive Rights said banning abortion at 6 weeks, before many people know they are pregnant targets South Carolinians who are already struggling to access health care.

The latest data on abortions in South Carolina is from 2019, when there 5,101 abortions performed in the state, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control. 

Most abortions were performed under 14 weeks, with 45.5 percent under 6 weeks and 53.9 percent between 7 to 13 weeks, according to state data. There were 3 abortions performed past 20 weeks due to medical emergencies, with 2 of those being because of fetal conditions that would have made the fetus unable to live after birth.