The House-passed bill -- cleared on an 84-29 vote, mostly by Republicans -- must now make its way through the state’s upper chamber before it can land on the governor’s desk.
It’s one of many anti-abortion bills the legislature is reportedly looking at this session; however, according to insiders, it’s perhaps the only bill making the rounds these days that has a chance of becoming state law:
The S.C. House passed a bill Wednesday that bans abortion after 19 weeks, a measure which critics say would open up the state to legal challenges that could cost South Carolina millions and interfere with a doctor's decision to make a medically appropriate decision.
The bill, H. 4223, known as a "fetal pain" measure passed on a largely party line vote, 84-29. Republicans said that the state is showing its respect for human life, especially because fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks - a disputed notion in the medical community.
For what it’s worth, late-term abortion bans are quite popular in the United States. LifeNews reports:
A National Right to Life Committee poll found that 64 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of women, support a ban on post-fetal pain abortion. The same poll also found that American women, by an overwhelming majority of 62-27 percent, would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this bill.
And yet, some in the pro-life community are thumbing their noses at this legislation. Why pass, they ask, a late-term abortion ban in a state that…doesn’t perform late-term abortions? Isn’t that a waste of time?
Some in the pro-life movement also don't consider the measure much of a victory. No South Carolina abortion clinics perform 20-week abortions. "For many of us in the pro-life movement, we're scratching our heads," Kevin Baird, a Charleston pastor, has said. "This addresses what - maybe zero to some anomaly? Then we feel like we have a victory?"
I disagree. The bill itself, if passed by the state Senate and signed by the governor, is perhaps meaningless in South Carolina. But the message it sends to the nation, and other states, matters. The purpose of pro-life legislation is to build a culture of life in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia; that can only happen when every state bans this all-too-common practice, which is both repugnant and morally indefensible -- especially given what we now know about fetal pain.