South Carolina Senate committee hears public comment on proposed abortion ban

·3 min read

This story has been updated to reflect that Dr. Annie Andrews is running for U.S. House of Representatives, not the South Carolina House of Representatives.

The South Carolina Senate Medical Affairs Committee heard testimony Wednesday about its proposed statewide abortion ban.

The senate's proposed legislation called the "Equal Protection at Conception - No Exceptions - Act" would fully ban abortion in the state and would also make it illegal to aid a person seeking an abortion. It would also make it illegal to help a minor cross state lines to receive an abortion.

As the hearing was taking place, the South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily blocked the enforcement of the state's current six-week abortion ban while it hears a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.

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During the committee's morning session, 20 witnesses made up of medical and legal professionals, along with residents impacted by abortion, were invited to speak first before the Senate committee about the proposed legislation.

Dr. Robert Jackson, a physician in Spartanburg, said the crux of the debate over abortion access rests on whether a fetus is seen as a potential human or a human with potential.

"Death is not the solution to an unplanned pregnancy," Jackson said.

Another Spartanburg physician, Dr. Michael Watkins, compared abortion to slavery and said the procedure was "grisly."

Both Jackson and Watkins said that life begins at conception, but Mount Pleasant physician Dr. Michael Slowey, said that fertilization is a process, so a law saying life begins at fertilization would be unclear for South Carolina doctors.

Director of Community Outreach for Able South Carolina Dori Tempio spoke about the possible consequences for people with disabilities if the Senate were to enact a stricter abortion ban.

"Eliminating abortion rights could cause bodily harm and even death," Tempio said of people with disabilities.

Dr. Dawn Bingham, a physician in Spartanburg, said that a law should not act as a one size fits all solution to the nuanced nature of abortion access.

"We will not stop fighting for our patients," she said.

Faith leaders, medical workers, activists and more testify during Tuesday's hearing

The Medical Affairs Committee limited public testimony at Wednesday's hearing to the first 100 people who signed up to speak online when the meeting's agenda was first posted online.

The committee's chairman Sen. Danny Verdin said those 100 slots were filled in about an hour and a half, but a handful of scheduled speakers did not show up to speak at the meeting.

Many speakers were Christian faith leaders from various denominations who spoke against abortion access and called on committee members to enact a statewide abortion ban.

Many doctors and nurses also gave testimony throughout the afternoon, with some medical providers urging the committee to not move forward with any legislation and others in favor of a complete abortion ban.

Ann Warner, CEO of the South Carolina Women's Rights and Empowerment Network, spoke about the economic impacts an abortion ban would have on women across the state.

She said that protecting abortion access was "fundamental to our state's stability and democratic integrity."

Dr. Annie Andrews, a physician and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, said an abortion ban would be anti-science, anti-woman and deeply unpopular among voters.

Throughout the day, Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic also hosted a “Show Up for Abortion Justice” event at the Statehouse in opposition to the proposed legislation.

On Monday, the South Carolina House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 13-7 to move a near total ban on abortion to the House floor.

The legislation does not currently include exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, but only for the life of the mother.

Now that the legislation has passed through the Judiciary Committee, it will be discussed on the House floor.

Check back for more on this developing story.

– Tim Carlin covers county government, growth and development for The Greenville News. Follow him on Twitter @timcarlin_, and get in touch with him at You can support his work by subscribing to The Greenville News at

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Proposed abortion ban in SC: Senate committee hears public comment