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'State government needs to stay out of it.' Advocacy groups speak out about abortion bill

Some say it's just politics for lawmakers, but it's personal for many women.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill is in its final steps to become law. The bill that would ban most abortions in South Carolina passed in the House Wednesday with no amendments.

The bill requires doctors perform ultrasounds to check for a heartbeat in the fetus. If detected, the abortion can only be performed if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest.

After passing in the Senate recently, the legislation has now passed in the House 79 to 35. This means the House will vote on it one more time before it’s sent to Governor McMaster’s desk. 

After the final vote Thursday, the abortion bill could be signed into law by McMaster as early as this week.

Some say it's just politics for lawmakers, but it's personal for many women.

Ann Warner with the Women's Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN) says women have the right to an abortion. She says it's, "So extreme and so dangerous."

"The state government needs to stay out of it, and leave it up to the people who are most affected by that decision," Warner said. "Women and all the people who can get pregnant in this state have the ability, the intellectual and moral ability to make those decisions."

Dave Wilson with Palmetto Family Circle says the bill will save lives. He says, "A heartbeat is a very clear sign of life," Wilson said. "There have been more than 531,000 South Carolinians who have lost their life to abortion since 1970."

Wilson is calling the passing of the abortion bill a victory. "We don't need to be neglecting the life and needs of the child," Wilson said. "It is absolutely critical this bill gets passed in South Carolina." 

Allison Terracio from Planned Parenthood is calling lawmakers antiquated. "Lawmakers are very out of step with the people of South Carolina," Terracio said. "We just can't believe we are having to fight this fight again."

Legal experts say bills like the one in South Carolina could lead to a challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Susan Dunn with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina says the 1973 court decision supports abortion rights. "The bill really ignores the parameters that were set down by Roe v. Wade and ignores fairly established law relating to bodily autonomy in the United States," Dunn said. 

Dunn says it could ultimately lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

"It will be a long time before this bill is challenged at the Supreme Court," Dunn said. "It's initially going to start in District Court, the Federal District Court of South Carolina, and the odds are that the enforcement of the statute will be stayed."

"Life is important to us." Wilson said. "Most people who are making these decisions, who've never been pregnant, shouldn't be making those decisions," Warner said.    

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