The first action approved by the S.C. Senate in 2021 was the fetal heartbeat bill, legislation that would ban most abortions.
Passage by the House of Representatives is practically guaranteed and Gov. Henry McMaster has promised to sign it into law once the legislation reaches his desk.
Before pro-life supporters rejoice, they must keep in mind that similar laws passed in other states have been struck down in federal courts and it seems likely the South Carolina abortion law will suffer a similar fate.
Despite some reservations about the bill’s language, I’m pleased the S.C. General Assembly has taken steps to protect the lives of living beings that cannot protect themselves and stop the infanticide afflicting our nation.
Abortion is one of those issues that divides public opinion into two, almost equal camps.
Pro-choice advocates firmly believe women have the right to make individual reproductive decisions.
Existing federal laws, as affirmed by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, give women the right to abort a pregnancy until the point of viability. Later court rulings made it legal to abort even later during a pregnancy.
Nowadays, barbaric partial birth abortions are allowed.
The bill passed by the Senate requires doctors to perform an ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat before performing an abortion. Penalties for proceeding with the abortion could be severe. Doctors breaking the law could face felony charges and forfeit their medical licenses.
The bill adds exceptions. Victims of rape and incest could legally seek an abortion. If a fetal anomaly is detected, the mother could also ask for an abortion legally.
Critics of the fetal heartbeat bill say that women frequently do not know they are pregnant until after the six-weeks provided for by the proposed law. In fact, the majority of abortions occur after the eighth week of pregnancy, they say.
Sen. Sandy Senn, R-Charleston, argued unsuccessfully that the deadline should be extended to the end of the first trimester of a pregnancy.
I find myself in the pro-life camp and believe the slaughter of innocent unborns must be addressed.
However, I take exception with a stipulation of the Senate bill that requires doctors to report to the local sheriff if a woman asks for an abortion because she was raped.
Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Richland, explained her objection to this language during the debate.
“Does it make you feel good when women have to relive the horror, the unspeakable shame and the trauma of all that we’ve experienced at the hands of a man,” McLeod said. “Then to add insult to injury, you force us to retell it to yet another man, this one with a badge. Just like rape. This bill is about power and control. Raped by a man. Now forced to report it to a man. Governed by a body of men.”
When the Senate bill is taken up by the House of Representatives, I hope this provision of the legislation will be re-examined.
Nevertheless, I’m pleased the fetal heartbeat bill passed the Senate and is on its way to becoming law.
Steve Robertson, former publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers, wrote this column. His opinion does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Waccamaw Publishers and its website MyHorryNews. com.