The South Carolina House of Representatives Passed the Heartbeat Bill. Now What?

The South Carolina Heartbeat Bill edged one step closer to becoming law, but there’s still a long road ahead for the Palmetto State’s pro-life community to make it happen.

South Carolina edged one step closer to enacting what’s known as the Heartbeat Bill. After more than five hours of debate and hundreds of amendments being proposed, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to pass the measure by a count of 70-31.

The South Carolina Heartbeat Bill would make illegal for an abortion to be performed once a fetal heartbeat is detected – usually within five to six weeks into a pregnancy. Consequentially, the bill requires a doctor to test for a heartbeat by ultrasound before conducting an abortion and allow the mother to see the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat if one is detected. Of course, if a heartbeat is distinguished, an abortion cannot be administered.

Of the passage, Representative John McCravy and author of the bill said, “This was a team effort today with many members contributing to the win. I am convinced that the prayers of his people carried the day as God honored those prayers. Thanks to all you pro-life people for your prayers and support. This is a huge step forward for the rights of the unborn in our state.”

Two amendments were adopted in sub-committee that provided exceptions for victims of rape or incest and for mothers whose life is considered to be at risk. In the days leading up to this important vote, Palmetto Family worked with legislators to allow for a clean vote on the bill – meaning, not adopting any amendments that altered or hindered the original intent of the bill in order to allow it to stand alone. Ultimately, no additional amendments were adopted.

This pro-life victory is certainly an opportunity to celebrate; however, much work remains if this bill is to become law.

Having only cleared the House, the bill must travel through Senate committees before receiving the opportunity to be debated on the Senate floor. With only seven working days remaining before the General Assembly recesses, it stands as unlikely that the Heartbeat Bill will be debated by the Senate and signed into law by the May 9th deadline.

Thankfully, the end of the 2019 session does not doom the bill.

The South Carolina Legislature works in two-years sessions, with 2019 being the first year of the current session. In other words, when the legislature reconvenes in January of 2020, they will be meeting for the second year of the current two-year session and will pick up right where they left off. The Heartbeat Bill will lose no ground and will have several months to weave its way through the Senate chamber and land on the Governor’s desk.

If that were to happen, Governor Henry McMaster has said that, “I’m pro-life, this is a pro-life state, I’ll be happy to sign any pro-life bill that comes to my desk.”

Certainly, much work remains, but the South Carolina pro-life community can be heartened by this important step toward ending abortions in the Palmetto State.

Joshua Putnam