Abortion ban faces exemption fight in South Carolina House

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) — Members of the South Carolina House plan to debate a new blanket ban on abortion Tuesday, with no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, even as some Republicans in the GOP-dominated chamber have proposed that they cannot vote for the bill as written.

But if the exemptions are put into the bill, more conservative members of the chamber could join with Democrats to kill the bill as well.

The day before the debate, one of the House’s most conservative lawmakers said 20 Republicans had signed his letter saying they would not commit to voting for the blanket ban with exceptions for rape and incest, which the 43- to Democrats would be enough. to kill the account.

“With a solid Republican majority in the South Carolina Legislature, there is no reason or excuse that we should negotiate a smaller seat,” said Republican Rep. Stuart Jones.

The state currently has a six-week ban, but the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended the law earlier this month while justices rule on a Planned Parenthood lawsuit that says the ban is an unreasonable invasion of privacy under the constitution of the state. The decision leaves South Carolina’s abortion ban at 20 weeks for now.

Proponents of the blanket ban in South Carolina want to follow the example of Indiana, which earlier in August passed a full ban that will take effect on September 15, with exceptions for rape, incest and if the mother’s life is in danger. The West Virginia House and Senate could not agree on stricter abortion rules in a July session.

Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws designed to ban most abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy in June.

South Carolina leaders have been closely watching these developments, as well as events several weeks ago in Kansas, where nearly 60 percent of voters rejected a measure that would have allowed the state’s conservative legislature to ban abortions. Republican Donald Trump received 56% of the 2020 presidential vote in Kansas. Trump won 55% in South Carolina.

Republican leaders in the South Carolina House allowed the speaker to call the special session after a draft opinion was leaked suggesting the US Supreme Court would allow states to ban abortions. Lawmakers began working on a full ban after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.

A special House committee then heard public testimony and drafted the outright ban bill. It allows abortions if the mother’s life is in danger, and then lists a number of different medical emergencies that would fit this exception.

The House Judiciary Committee sent the bill to the House on a 13-7 vote. All yes votes were from Republicans and all votes against the bill were from Democrats. But three Republican committee members who were at the meeting did not vote.

It’s not just the exemptions that give some Republicans pause. The bill includes a statement that “it is undisputed that every person’s life begins at conception,” and some conservatives said they need to figure out whether that means child support and tax credits also begin at conception.

The South Carolina House has 80 Republicans, 43 Democrats and one vacancy. The bill needs a majority to send it to the Senate, where stricter abortion bans have seen fiercer battles.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has not commented on the specific bill, but said he would like to see a day where abortion is free in the state.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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