COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – Governor McMaster says while there is a way to go in passing the Fetal Heartbeat Bill, South Carolina has never come closer, and he plans to sign it if it gets to his desk.
“Years ago, the support was not nearly what it is now,” Governor McMaster said. “I think we’re learning more and more. Technology has been important in teaching us; ultrasounds, those things are undeniable, dramatic and vivid.”
The Bill would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which typically happens about the sixth week of pregnancy. There would be exceptions in the case of rape, incest or if a mother’s life is at risk.
A Fetal Heartbeat Bill has been proposed in the past and some supporters say it was on the right track before the pandemic derailed last session. This session, The Heartbeat Bill is the Senate’s first.
South Carolina Citizens for Life Executive Director, Holly Gatling, says the Senate prioritizing the Bill shows how important some law makers think it is.
Others in the state, like the Chair of the Florence County Democratic Party, Mattie Thomas, disagree.
“Our state legislators are trying to take away abortion in South Carolina and effectively, a woman’s right to choose, a family’s right to choose,” Thomas said.
Today Gatling said this Bill would not take away a right, rather it would protect it.
“The Fetal Heartbeat Bill protects a woman’s right to know that her baby has a beating heart,” Gatling explained.
Thomas says she doesn’t understand why the South Carolina legislature is focusing on the Fetal Heartbeat Bill during the pandemic.
“We need to be concentrating on getting the vaccines to people who need them and focusing on making sure people wear their masks, so they won’t be spreaders, and this is what we’re going to focus on? No,” Thomas said. “I already called my congressman, my senator.”
In a statement to News13, Horry County Representative, Russell Fry said, “Protecting life is of utmost importance. This bill defends the rights of the unborn in a vital way and I applaud the Senate for taking the issue up. I have voted for this legislation three times in the House and intend to do so again.”
A separate Bill introduced this session would require the State compensate some women who have to give birth because of the Fetal Heartbeat Bill.
The Bill states women would be eligible for things like SNAP and TANF benefits, as well as automatic entitlement to participate in the state Nurse-Family Partnership program. The Bill would also require the State to pay for any funeral and burial expenses if a woman or the baby dies during the gestational period or childbirth.
You can read that entire Bill here.
Count on News13 to follow the Fetal Heartbeat Bill heads for vote.