GOP Legislators File Several Overlapping Abortion Restrictions in South Carolina

GOP Legislators File Several Overlapping Abortion Restrictions in South Carolina

WASHINGTON -- Republican lawmakers in South Carolina have pre-filed a slew of legislation concerning abortion in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the last legislative session, when their bills on the subject were stalled.

A bill that would give full legal rights to fetuses -- known as a "personhood" measure -- would have the effect of banning the procedure altogether, according to medical experts. Another bill would ban the procedure after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which would amount to a ban after six weeks of pregnancy, and yet another one of the bills would ban the procedure at 20 weeks post-fertilization.

In 1973's Roe v. Wade decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that states may restrict or ban abortions after fetal viability, which is understood to be at 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Republican state Sen. Lee Bright, who pre-filed five of the seven bills, told The Huffington Post on Monday that he recognized the bills would ban abortion at different points of pregnancy and said he was waiting to "see which [bill] gets the most traction."

"In South Carolina you have an electorate that is pro-life but you’ve got a legislature that doesn’t have the political will," he said. "I file them and you fight for them; it's a matter of what the people demand."

Bright said he wasn't concerned that similar fetal heartbeat measures have been struck down by federal courts.

Though Bright said he was "most passionate" about the personhood measure, he said he thought a separate bill that would require doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals would have the best chance of succeeding in the next legislative session. South Carolina is not yet among the five states that have such an admitting-privilege requirement. During debate over an earlier iteration of the bill in the last legislative session, Bright noted that a similar admitting-privileges requirement had forced clinics to close in Texas.

Alyssa Miller, Planned Parenthood's director of public affairs for South Carolina, told HuffPost that the admitting-privilege bill could force the network's clinic in Columbia, South Carolina, to shut its doors. Just three clinics perform the procedure in the state.

"This is something that we believe is just another law aimed at restricting women’s access -- there’s no medical basis for this bill," she said, calling the bill "a dangerous measure."

"None of these extreme pieces of legislation will prevent any unintended pregnancies," Miller added, questioning why the legislators weren't instead focusing on preventing unintended pregnancy through sex education and contraceptive access. In 2008, 56 percent of all pregnancies in South Carolina were unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

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