Conservative-led committee suggests near-ban on abortions in SC

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 19, 2022 at 7:54 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The committee formed to guide South Carolina’s response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade has now put out its recommendations for a change in law, which include a near-ban on abortions in the state.

The state’s House Ad Hoc Committee on abortion convened for its second meeting Tuesday in Columbia, about two weeks after hearing seven hours of public testimony on the issue at its first meeting. Rep. John McCravy, R – Greenwood and the House Ad Hoc Committee’s chair, said they also received “thousands” of emails with written testimony.

At this meeting, however, no testimony was taken, with McCravy instead beginning it by giving an overview of the recommendations the group is sending to the House Judiciary Committee, which will next take it up, before all 12 members shared their thoughts.

In the Judiciary Committee and during debate on the House of Representatives floor, the proposal could further changed, and several members referred to these suggestions as “a starting point.”

“It’s important that we not take a snapshot and hold it up as a final product,” Rep. Micah Caskey, R – Lexington, said.

The committee, made up of eight Republicans and four Democrats, voted 9-3 to recommend these changes to South Carolina’s abortion law. All Republicans, along with Democrat Jackie “Coach” Hayes of Dillon County, voted in favor.

The proposal would outlaw almost all abortions except in very limited circumstances, and McCravy said their top priority is “to end the practice of abortion being used as birth control in our state.”

Among their recommendations is a ban on abortions with no exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or fetal anomalies.

“To kill an innocent, pre-born child will never erase the criminal act. What it will do is turn one tragedy into two tragedies,” McCravy said in explaining why rape and incest exceptions were excluded.

The procedure would be allowed to save the life of the mother and to prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” The proposal lists ectopic pregnancies, severe preeclampsia, and miscarriages among the situations in which abortions would be permitted.

Abortion providers could face up to two years in prison and a fine for performing the procedure, but South Carolinians who receive abortions would not be criminalized.

These recommendations would not prevent traveling to another state to get an abortion, and McCravy said they do not seek to prohibit contraceptives or in vitro fertilization.

Democrat Rosalyn Henderson-Myers of Spartanburg County said, among her concerns, she worries these restrictions would discourage OB-GYNs from training and practicing in South Carolina, a state where those doctors are already limited.

“I’ve talked to numerous doctors who are facing real life situations already. They have to decide whether they want to go to jail or be sued if they care for their patients,” she said. " … Let me make myself loud and clear as I can: Politicians need to stay out of the medical room.”

But Republican Josiah Magnuson, also from Spartanburg County, argued the suggestions do not go far enough.

Magnuson called to increase the penalties for abortion providers to a minimum of 10 years in prison and said the state should criminalize some mothers who get abortions.

“If we would prosecute someone for shooting an infant in the face, we should prosecute them for torturing their child to death in the womb,” Magnuson said.

Committee members from both parties said they would like to see future action taken to strengthen South Carolina’s adoption and foster-care services if this legislation passes.

Others said Tuesday they wished they had the opportunity to ask questions to doctors and other experts in a meeting before advancing these recommendations.

“Roe v. Wade has been the law of this land for 50 years,” Rep. Chandra Dillard, D – Greenville, said. “I don’t believe that we can answer South Carolina’s issue on how it’s going to impact us in two meetings.”

The House Judiciary Committee will next take up these recommendations. The committee has not yet announced a meeting date to consider the legislation.

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