South Carolina Senate Passes 6-Week Abortion Ban, Sends Bill to Governor to Sign

US-NEWS-SC-ABORTION-2-CS - Credit: Tracy Glantz/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
US-NEWS-SC-ABORTION-2-CS - Credit: Tracy Glantz/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The South Carolina Senate voted Tuesday to ban abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy — before most people know they are pregnant — and sent the bill to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it.

The measure was passed by a vote of 27 to 19, and only includes exceptions for the patient’s life and health, for fatal fetal anomalies and up to 12 weeks for rape and incest cases. Doctors who violate the ban would lose their license, face felony charges carrying two years imprisonment, and a $10,000 fine.

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South Carolina is among the last refuges in the American South for those seeking legal abortion. Abortion is banned or severely restricted throughout pregnancy in much of the region including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. If signed by the governor, the ban would immediately go into effect, and make Virginia an outlier as a state where women still have unrestricted access to abortions.

Tuesday’s vote ended a filibuster led by the chamber’s five female senators, including three Republicans, who call themselves the “Sister Senators.” Last week, the House approved the Senate’s almost six-week ban, sending it back with a list of amendments. Republican Sen. Katrina Shealy, who voted against the ban, accused the ban’s supporters of “voting for political reasons” and said the legislation was “not what the people of South Carolina want.”

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