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The South Carolina state legislature passed a major piece of legislation Wednesday banning nearly all abortions in the state — and now the bill is on its way to the governor's desk to be signed into law.
What are the details?
The bill, known as the "South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act," passed the state House by a vote of 79 to 35 Wednesday afternoon, according to the Associated Press. Late last month, the state Senate voted 30 to 13 in favor of the proposal.
Under the legislation, doctors are required to perform ultrasounds on pregnant mothers seeking an abortion to check if the baby has a heartbeat. Should a heartbeat be detected, the abortion is outlawed except for in rare cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest or the mother's life is in danger.
Heartbeats are normally detected as early as six weeks, oftentimes before women even know they are pregnant.
Now that the House has approved the proposal, a perfunctory third vote on the bill is planned for Thursday, after which Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to sign it into law.
Since its introduction, the bill was all but sure to succeed given its support in the Republican-controlled Congress. But that didn't stop Democratic lawmakers from throwing a temper tantrum as the legislation was readied for passage.
The State reported that nearly every Democratic member of the House walked out of the chamber as the bill was taken up for debate on Wednesday. Only a few Democrats remained in the chamber for the debate.
One lawmaker, Rep. Jonathan Hill, even stormed out of the building while tossing his amendments to the proposal up in the air. As he left, Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas reportedly said, "If you want to engage in such childish behavior the sergeants will make sure you're not here with us."
"We come here for one reason, and that reason is to do what's best for the people of South Carolina," Democratic House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford told reporters after staging the walkout. "And that means that every day we come up here and we're concerned to make sure that from the time of conception to the time of death South Carolinians are taken care of."
Another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Wendy Brawley, said, "If we are truly concerned about life, we should care what happens to that life once it gets here. No one has a right to tell me or any other woman what he believes is best for their body. There ought to be something that I have providence over."
The AP noted that several other Republican-majority states have passed similar pro-life measures to the proposal just approved in South Carolina, which could take effect should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.
However, since their passage, all of those measures have been held up in court battles. Unfortunately, the same fate likely awaits the South Carolina bill.
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