COLUMBIA, S.C. — For hours on Tuesday a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee listened to testimony in favor and against the so-called 'fetal heartbeat' bill.
The bill, H.3020 would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in some special circumstances.
OB/GYN Amy Crocket testified the bill would constrain patient-doctor relationships.
"This bill is improper interference in the doctor-patient relationship by using this legislation to pick and choose which evidence-based essential healthcare services are available, it sets a dangerous precedent for the practice of medicine and limits patient autonomy," Crocket told the gathered senators early Tuesday morning.
She continued that the bill, which has already passed in the House, would undermine medical decisions.
"The bill criminalizes the practice of medicine by imposing harsh criminal penalties on physicians for providing the standard of care according to their training, medical judgement, and national guidelines," Crocket continued.
The ACLU, other OB/GYNs, and women's advocacy groups also criticized the bill.
Several women expressed frustration and at times anger that they had to share deeply personal stories about their healthcare and or abortions in an effort to stop the bill, particularly in front of strangers.
On the other side of the issue, supporters of the bill like Pastor Mitch Prosser said it's protecting human life.
"I speak as a member of a ground swell of thousands of members of this state, Christians, here in South Carolina in support of H. 3020, known as the heartbeat bill. I along with so many others believe that life is precious, sacred and it should be valued. Science and common sense tell us a heartbeat signifies life," Prosser told the subcommittee.
He was joined by fellow pastors, representatives from the S.C. Catholic and Baptist churches, other church groups and some pregnancy centers.
Most of them also defended the bill as a protector of unborn human life. Other testimony in support of the bill called for exceptions like rape and incest to be removed, saying in their view the unborn children don't deserve to die.
The bill did not receive a vote in the subcommittee meeting on Tuesday.
However, the lack of voting did not stop drama among the senators on the subcommittee.
At some points, subcommittee chair Shane Martin (R, Spartanburg) reminded his subcommittee colleagues not to cross-examine the public testimony and to refrain from delving too deeply into personal opinions.
Senator Margie Bright Matthews (D, Colleton) at one point raised concern over the timing of the hearing when the Senate was not in session and the bill had been introduced for a year.