Gov. McMaster pledges to sign strict ‘fe­tal heart­beat’ abor­tion ban

The Herald (Rock Hill) - - Front Page - BY TOM BAR­TON tbar­[email protected]­

As sweep­ing abor­tion bans ad­vance across the South and Mid­west, Repub­li­can Gov. Henry McMaster pledged to his party’s faith­ful Satur­day that South Carolina will fol­low suit.

“This is a pro-life state. When that heart­beat bill gets to my desk, I will sign it,” McMaster said to loud ap­plause from some 1,200 Re­pub­li­cans gath­ered at River Bluff High School in Lex­ing­ton for the S.C. GOP an­nual state con­ven­tion.

South Carolina’s anti-abor­tion move­ment scored a vic­tory last month with pas­sage in the S.C. House of a bill that would ef­fec­tively ban most abor­tions in the state, fol­low­ing years of

ef­forts — some suc­cess­ful — to re­strict women’s ac­cess to abor­tions in South Carolina. The bill is now in the S.C. Sen­ate, where it could be de­bated next year.

The S.C. bill would make it il­le­gal for an abor­tion to be per­formed once a fe­tal heart­beat is de­tected — usu­ally within five to six weeks, be­fore many women know they are preg­nant and be­fore the fe­tus can survive out­side the womb. The bill requires a doctor to test for a heart­beat by ul­tra­sound be­fore per­form­ing an abor­tion and al­low the mother to see the ul­tra­sound and hear the heart­beat.

If the bill be­comes law, a doctor who per­forms an abor­tion on a fe­tus with a heart­beat would face a felony charge, pun­ish­able by a $10,000 fine or up to two years in prison, or both.

Sup­port­ers of the bill say the pres­ence of a heart­beat in­di­cates life and means that an abor­tion amounts to mur­der. Op­po­nents, in­clud­ing Planned Par­ent­hood, say the bill re­stricts a woman’s abil­ity to make de­ci­sions about her body with her doctor. They also say many women who are poor and have lim­ited means to travel would have few op­tions other than to try to ter­mi­nate their own preg­nan­cies.

The Women’s Rights and Em­pow­er­ment Net­work launched a cam­paign against the abor­tion bill this month, erect­ing bill­boards in four lo­ca­tions around Columbia. WREN CEO Ann Warner said the group seeks to raise aware­ness around “dan­ger­ous leg­isla­tive at­tacks on re­pro­duc­tive free­dom, and to de­mand S.C. women be treated with equal­ity, re­spect, and dig­nity.”

McMaster’s com­ments come as a “near-to­tal abor­tion ban” was signed into law this week in Alabama as part of a move­ment in some parts of the coun­try to cre­ate re­stric­tive new laws on abor­tion. McMaster’s pledge also comes on the heels of Mis­souri’s GOP-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture pass­ing leg­is­la­tion that would ban abor­tions at eight weeks of preg­nancy.

Ken­tucky, Mis­sis­sippi, Ohio and Ge­or­gia also have approved bans on abor­tion once a fe­tal heart­beat can be de­tected. Some of those laws al­ready have been blocked or chal­lenged in court, and sim­i­lar re­stric­tions in North Dakota and Iowa were struck down by judges.


But anti-abor­tion ad­vo­cates see an op­por­tu­nity to spark a court chal­lenge that over­turns Roe v. Wade. The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court de­ci­sion af­firmed a woman’s right to an abor­tion be­fore a fe­tus is vi­able out­side the womb, usu­ally about 24 weeks into a preg­nancy.

Sup­port­ers of re­strict­ing abor­tion ac­cess in South Carolina wel­come a con­sti­tu­tional chal­lenge to the fe­tal heart­beat bill, should it be­come law, a risk they say is in their fa­vor given the ad­di­tion of con­ser­va­tive jus­tices now sit­ting on the U.S. Supreme Court.


U.S. Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary chair­man Lind­sey Graham, a Seneca Repub­li­can, also was warmly re­ceived by con­ven­tion go­ers. He re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion and ap­plause from S.C. GOP del­e­gates af­ter they watched a video of Graham erupt dur­ing a con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing of U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh as an “un­eth­i­cal scam.”

“The Repub­li­can party is the party of the un­born, with­out apol­ogy,” Graham told the crowd af­ter pledg­ing to put “as many (con­ser­va­tive) judges on the bench as we pos­si­bly can.”

“It is the party of con­ser­va­tive judges that un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween their job and my job.”

Graham also ad­dressed hav­ing re­cently come un­der fire af­ter he ad­vised pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son to use his rights to avoid an­swer­ing ques­tions from Congress, prompt­ing #Lind­seyGra­hamRe­sign to trend on Twit­ter.

To which Graham on Satur­day replied: “I’m go­ing to an­swer the re­quest for me to re­sign. Uh, go to hell.”


The anti-abor­tion bill passed in the S.C. House and is now in the S.C. Sen­ate, where it could be de­bated next year. It will be a while be­fore any such bill lands on Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk, if at all.

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