Republicans in South Carolina have voted to proceed on a measure that would strip abortion exemptions in cases of rape or incest, and criminalise the procedure almost entirely as soon as a foetal heartbeat is detected.
The proposed bill is the latest attack on abortion rights throughout the United States, in an effort by conservatives keen on bringing the issue before the Supreme Court. There, they hope, they may finally be able to make good on a long held dream of repealing some or all of the landmark Roe v Wade decision largely legalising abortion in the country.
“You are in fact killing an innocent human being. Whether you mean to or not, you are punishing a person wrongfully for something he or she had nothing to do with,” said Republican state senator Richard Cash, who introduced the amendment that stripped rape and incest exemptions, in an interview with The State.
He continued: “Anyone who is alive who was conceived in rape would probably be very glad that they are alive. And would probably be very willing to discuss and argue with you about their right to life while in the womb.”
The measure in South Carolina must still pass the full legislature, before it would be sent to Republican governor Henry McMaster’s desk for a signature.
The bill does include an exemption where the pregnancy may risk the life of the mother.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina has decried the measure as just another attack on abortion rights in the United States, and follows after a wave of 17 abortion bans being passed across 10 states in just this past year, according to an analysis of the Guttmacher Institute.
“This medically unnecessary hoop to jump through is just another example of the legislature of South Carolina trying to control women, in any way possible,” the ACLU of South Carolina wrote on its website.