South Carolina governor Nikki Haley signed a bill that outlaws most abortions 20 weeks after conception, CBS News is reporting.
The law signed by Haley "took effect Wednesday with the Republican governor's signature," CBS News stated. "The only exceptions are if the mother's life is in jeopardy or a doctor determines the fetus can't survive outside the womb."
The bill is called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (PCUCPA). CBS News noted that abortion became legal in all 50 states with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Roe stated that states may issue restrictions upon it based upon the unborn baby's "viability." However, the Court never defined what "viability" means.
While the Supreme Court has heard numerous abortion-related cases since 1973, it has yet to hear a case on an unborn baby's viability after 20 weeks.
With Governor Haley's signing of PCUCPA, South Carolina now joins 16 other states in banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.
Doctors who now perform abortions after 20 weeks would be subjected to up to $10,000 in fines, and three years in prison.
Pro-life organizations were quick to praise Haley at the bill's passage, The Washington Times reported.
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called the legislation the "latest victory amid a flurry of state-level pro-life activity being led by women lawmakers."
Dannenfelser also called upon the U.S. Congress to pass a similar ban, which would save 18,000 lives per year, she said.
The numbers seem to prove that accurate; according to a fact sheet from Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, only 1.2 percent of abortions occur "at or after 21 weeks."
The effect of the law signed by Governor Haley would be limited, since on average, there are only 30 abortions performed each year in South Carolina after 20 weeks.
However, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson told The Times that as rare as they are, abortions after 20 weeks are usually for pregnancies that have gone wrong.
"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 doctor need every medical option available,"Alyssa Miller, a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman for South Carolina, told The Times.
But supporters noted that the legislation has exceptions, including endangerment to the life of the mother. Proponents also claim that the fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks in the womb, although the abortion industry disputes that.
While ABC News reported that many pro-choice advocates rallied the state capitol and urged Nikki Haley to veto the measure, there was little surprise that she signed it, as she has long been outspoken about her pro-life stance.
"I'm strongly pro-life, very pro-life and not because my party tells me to be, but my husband was adopted, and so every day I know the blessings of having him there," Haley said when she ran for governor in 2010.
The new law will only affect hospitals, since the three abortion clinics in South Carolina do not provide abortions after 15 weeks, The Times said.
This is the second piece of major pro-life legislation signed by Governor Haley. In 2012, she signed a bill that would protect infants who were born alive while an abortion was taking place. The bill "defined a person as anyone who is breathing and has a beating heart after birth, whether by labor, cesarean section or abortion," and was basically an exact replica of a federal law passed in 2002, according to ABC News.
Haley also voted for pro-life legislation as a Congresswoman, prior to becoming governor.
While there has been no official announcement as of this posting, it is likely that the law will be challenged by abortion rights groups.
What do you think? Did Governor Nikki Haley do the right thing in banning abortions 20 weeks after conception in South Carolina?
[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]