With Wednesday’s 83-31 vote, South Carolina legislators took a significant step toward outlawing abortion altogether.
The Constitution of South Carolina states that no individual shall be deprived of life without due process of law. Hence the Human Life Protection Act, as currently written, would outlaw abortion in the State.
The Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade effectively ended the acknowledgment of a constitutional right to abortion. It gave each State the authority to legalize, restrict, or outlaw abortion as it saw fit.
In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the court ruled against a Mississippi law that would have prohibited abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Republican-controlled Mississippi petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court verdict that blocked enforcement of the 15-week abortion ban.
Writing for the court, Samuel Alito stated that it would return to its original premise that individual states could pass laws restricting or outlawing abortion.
Alito’s opinion that Roe and Casey improperly assumed power has resulted in their overturn and the return of power to the people and their representatives in government.
The proposed South Carolina abortion ban references the Supreme Court’s ruling and the State’s use of its political might to protect the right to life of unborn children. Abortion-inducing medications or substances cannot be given to a pregnant woman, prescribed for a pregnant woman, or sold to a pregnant woman in any way under current legislation.
The use of any kind of instrument or device to carry out an abortion is also prohibited by this bill.
The proposed law includes exemptions, such as when a pregnancy directly results from rape or incest or where a fatal fetal defect has been certified by two physicians.
Any doctor who carries out or induces an abortion based on a rape allegation must notify the county sheriff within 24 hours. Under the Preservation of Evidence Act, the doctor is also obligated to keep a DNA sample from the fetal remains in evidence.
If caught breaking the legislation, offenders face up to two years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
On Wednesday, Republican State Representative Josiah Magnuson urged longer sentences of up to 25 years for repeat offenders and up to 10 years for first-time offenders.
According to him, the current wording of the law makes South Carolina’s sanctions for abortion the weakest of all the states that have taken steps to ban the procedure.
Magnuson argued that abortion should be criminalized under the law to protect the greatest number of lives.
The House of Representatives approved the measure by a vote of 83 to 31, sending it forward to the State Senate for further debate.
The Fetal Heartbeat Act, signed into law by South Carolina governor Henry McMaster in 2021, makes abortion illegal if a fetal heartbeat is found, often after six weeks of pregnancy.