COLUMBIA, S.C. — A committee met at the State House on Tuesday to work out a possible compromise that could decide the fate of South Carolina's abortion law.
The conference committee on abortion is trying to settle differences between competing bills passed by the House and the Senate weeks ago. The Senate version bans almost all abortions after six weeks while the House version bans all abortions with a few exemptions.
The committee is made up of three House members and three Senators
During Tuesday's discussions two compromises were proposed. State Representative John McCravy presented the first proposal, which calls for using the Senate's language to define rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomaly for abortion exemptions.
“It doesn’t endanger women’s healthcare in any way. The life and serious health of the mother is protected. We have medical clarity in all of these versions,” Rep. McCravy said.
State Senator Richard Cash presented the second idea. His version of bill removes the definition of contraception to protect birth control because some are worried the definition could lead to confusion.
“There was some debate and controversy about whether this was going to affect birth control measures,” Sen. Cash said.
When they finished Tuesday, the only final decision made was to reconvene next week with time is winding down to review these proposals. Lawmakers have until November 13 to pass the bill or wait until the next session begins in January. By adding this new meeting, it gives the full House and Senate less time to consider any changes the committee makes.
According to State Senator Shane Massey, this won't be a simple vote.
“It’s clear to me the Senate doesn’t have the votes to pass a ban earlier than six weeks," Massey said. "The question is do we want to pass something. If we want to pass something it gonna have to be after six weeks."
State Representative Elizabeth Wetmore said she doesn't see it happening.
“So you’ve taken that language and combine it with restrictive language from the house bill, not allowing an abortion at any time but for certain exceptions and I don’t know what kind of coalition you’ve got to pass this bill, frankly,” Rep. Wetmore said.
The abortion conference committee will meet again Wednesday, November 9th, the day after the election.