Only two South Carolina House Democrats voted to ban on most abortions in the state on Wednesday, and one of them explained that his “consistent” view on the right to life helped him overcome reservations about the legislation.
Rep. Russell Ott (D) was one of only two Democrats in the South Carolina House to vote for the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which restricts abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected—as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
Ott told CNA on Wednesday that the abortion issue is not an “easy” one for him, but that everyone—including the unborn—deserves an opportunity to live.
“I feel like I need to continue to be consistent,” he told CNA. “An unborn child is still a human being,” he said, adding that “I can’t separate myself from that.”
The House passed the bill overwhelmingly on Wednesday, and on Thursday Gov. Henry McMaster (R) signed it into law. Planned Parenthood also announced on Thursday that it was challenging the law in court.
During legislative debate over the bill on Wednesday, Democrats walked out of the state House chamber in protest.
Under the law, doctors would face a felony charge and up to two years in prison for performing an illegal abortion after a baby’s heartbeat has been detected. Mothers seeking abortions could not be criminally prosecuted, however.
According to data from the state’s health office, 55% of abortions in South Carolina in 2019 were performed after six weeks. The legislation includes exceptions for a pregnancy as a result of rape or incest, in the case of a “fetal anomaly,” or when the life of the mother is at stake.
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