The South Carolina legislature passed a bill this week forbidding abortion after 19 weeks, becoming the 17th state in America to impose the limiting ban, CBS News is reporting.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley revealed in March that she was 100 percent sure she would sign it if it made it through, adding that she would acquaint herself with the details before putting pen to paper.
The restrictive ban on abortion is in full swing in 12 states. However, it has been thwarted by lawsuits in three other states, with the U.S. Supreme Court yet to make a final pronouncement on the constitutionality of such bans. In Utah, a similar law signed in March requires doctors to make available anesthesia to a fetus that is minimum 20 weeks in the womb. A South Dakota law also signed in March becomes effective in the summer.
Abortion right supporters are not happy with the development, saying it makes the procedure otherwise left to personal choice stiffer. Besides this restrictive bill in South Carolina, opponents of abortion in other states have gone ahead to pass into law the banning of a procedure used during the second trimester, known as the dilation and evacuation method.
Rep. Wendy Nanney, sponsor of the South Carolina’s bill, said she was optimistic that state legislature would eventually “get rid of abortion altogether.” She continued, “I firmly believe life begins at conception and anything we can do to protect human life I’m all for.” The South Carolina House approved the bill 79-29, the Senate had endorsed it 36-9 earlier on in March.
There are exceptions to the ban; an abortion can be carried out if a doctor has medically determined that the fetus cannot exist outside the womb or if a mother’s life is in danger. “Fetal anomaly” is also a crucial component of the bill, which means that it would be unlawful to abort a fetus with a serious disability if a child is meant to survive.
This burning issue is the reason why Democrats fought the legislation for years. Sen. Brad Hutto, a leading challenger of the bill, argues that to have or not to have a baby is a choice best left to a woman. However, he admitted that the compromise reached was the best option available. The South Carolina bill offers no exceptions in cases of incest or rape.
According to the state’s public health agency, fewer than 30 abortions are performed every year at 20 weeks or beyond, a statistic that stretches as far back as 1990. Close watchers say the ban is going to affect hospitals adversely because none of the three abortion clinics located in South Carolina provide abortions after 15 weeks. Moreover, the bill states that any doctor who performs an illegal abortion faces a $10,000 fine and a jail term of up to three years.
While supporters of the bill are of the opinion that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, opponents say latter-time abortions that involve wanted pregnancies can easily go awry and wonder why politicians are making a difficult decision and delving into personal matters.
Alyssa Miller, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said it was “a dangerous bill for South Carolina women.” She continued, “the reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is extremely rare and often takes place in complex and difficult situations where a woman and her child need every medical option available.”
The Nonprofit Guttmacher Institute, which monitors abortion laws, knows of only one person that has been found guilty of violating an abortion law when it was passed. In 2011, an Idaho woman was arrested for carrying out an abortion on herself after procuring pills online. After the charge, Idaho’s law was nullified.
[Image via Shutterstock/a katz]