COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — Two months after Roe v. Wade was overturned, the South Carolina House of Representatives will debate a near-total abortion ban.
H.5399 is set to be taken up on the floor Tuesday. The legislation would prohibit nearly all abortions in the state and contains exceptions for the health or life of the mother.
State lawmakers said they are gearing up for robust debate at the State House this week.
“I’ve heard from many constituents who disagree with any kind of abortion ban without exceptions,” said Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Richland).
H.5399 passed the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Before that vote, an Ad-Hoc committee listened to hours of testimony to come up with a draft bill in July.
The debate over abortion isn’t unique to state lawmakers but this week’s debate will be different.
“In the past when we’ve taken up abortion there’s been a legal backstop in Roe v. Wade & Casey v. Planned Parenthood. So this is a different fight,” Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington) said.
Some of the debate is expected to center around exceptions. Currently, the bill does not include exceptions for rape or incest.
“The bill has a long way to go before it can be something that looks right and ready to be part of the law in South Carolina,” Caskey said. “It’s a good starting point but it’s not ready.”
During a news conference called Monday afternoon, Rep. Stewart Jones (R-Laurens) said there are about 20 GOP House members who will not support the legislation if exceptions for rape or incest are included.
“While the circumstances of conception are horrific, the life of a child in the womb must always be protected,” Jones said.
The state’s six-week ban has those exceptions. The law is currently blocked by the state Supreme Court while they listen to arguments in a case challenging its constitutionality.
“I’m hopeful the Supreme Court in this state will find the right to privacy extends to abortion,” said Rep. Bernstein.
The South Carolina Senate is scheduled to reconvene next week. They’re expected to either take up the legislation passed by the House or their own abortion legislation.