S.C. lawmakers could be close to decision on abortion legislation

For the first time in months, an abortion stalemate could be easing between the South Carolina House and Senate.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 6:43 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Republicans at the State House are working against the clock to enact tighter abortion restrictions in South Carolina.

On Tuesday, for the first time in months, it seems a stalemate between the conflicting House and Senate on the issue could be dissipating.

Earlier this year – the House passed an abortion ban from conception – and the Senate passed a six-week ban.


Last month, the Senate killed the ban from conception – lacking the support to pass it.

On Tuesday, a House committee took up the six-week ban for the first time.

The bill would ban most abortions in South Carolina after about six weeks – allowing limited exceptions to save the mother’s life … for sexual assault victims … and when the fetus has a fatal anomaly that would prohibit it from surviving outside the womb.

This basis is nearly identical to the former six-week ban the state Supreme Court struck down in January – ruling it violates the state constitutional right to privacy.

A Charleston woman testified Tuesday about her experiencing seeking an abortion out of state last summer – when the old six-week ban was still in effect.

“The Republican Party I used to align with wanted less government, but these bills are total control. Why?” said Jill Hartle, who lives in Charleston.

Hartle says doctors diagnosed her baby with an anomaly that would require life support – but determined the anomaly wouldn’t qualify for an exception to the abortion ban.

her husband, Matt, said: “We live five minutes from MUSC, the best fetal heart department in the country, and they couldn’t give us advice on what to do.”

Some representatives questioned why they were taking up this six-week ban – when the state Supreme Court ruled the previous one unconstitutional.

“This legislation isn’t the same legislation that we passed. … It has in it differences that make it a new piece of legislation and a different piece of legislation,” said Rep. Jay Jordan, R-Florence.

Kathleen McDaniel, one of the attorneys who represented Planned Parenthood in the lawsuit against the struck-down six-week ban, disagrees.

“Our Supreme Court has spoken that a six-week limitation is an unreasonable invasion of a woman’s right to privacy and will not be held constitutional,” McDaniel said.

The bill the House Judiciary Committee is considering advancing to the floor for debate is foundationally the same as what the Senate passed earlier this year.

But House members did make extensive changes throughout it, so it remains to be seen if senators will be amenable to those or whether they’ll tie up negotiations even more.

South Carolina’s legislative session ends this Thursday.

But the governor may call lawmakers back to the State House next week to work to get a bill to him, if they don’t get it done by the end of this week.