SC lawmakers ‘cautiously optimistic’ after potential Roe v. Wade overturn as Fetal Heartbeat Bill sits in courts
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) - The decision at the Supreme court could have different implications for both North and South Carolina.
Right now, there are plans to have tighter restrictions for abortions in South Carolina- thanks to a bill dubbed “The Fetal Heartbeat” bill. South Carolina already had that abortion law pass the Senate and House and get signed by the governor, but it has been held up in the courts ever since.
The Fetal Heartbeat Bill was signed February 21st, 2021 by Governor Henry McMaster. Governor McMaster’s office says the law promotes maternal health and protecting “precious life.”
It limits abortions to the six-week mark after a heartbeat is detected and requires a person giving an abortion to have the parent listen to the heartbeat, get an ultrasound and give childhood development information.
Opposition to the ban has mostly called it a quote “near-total abortion ban” since most pregnant people do not know they are pregnant until the eight-week mark. The Fetal Heartbeat Bill has been stuck in the courts ever since it became law after Planned Parenthood sued the state. The law is now in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting a review from the full panel.
People on both sides of the debate feel like this leaked draft means change is coming. South Carolina’s statehouse was bustling as per usual, but the Supreme Court’s leaked opinion draft drove a lot of the conversations in the rotunda.
Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network’s CEO Ann Warner says she is counting down the days with dread until the Supreme Court’s ruling.
”We want people to realize that at this moment the stakes literally couldn’t be higher,” says Warner.
The draft is just that and abortion is still legal in the state of South Carolina and across the country, but with the draft comes Warner believes the writing could be on the wall.
”The Supreme Court seems poised to strip that from all Americans with the stroke of a pen. So we are alarmed and we are outraged,” she says.
Warner says it is time to wait and see what the Supreme Court’s ruling will actually say, but no matter the decision, she says they will fight to protect the right to an abortion.
“We’re prepared in any case to continue our advocacy. So we will continue to advocate for that right here in South Carolina no matter what,” she says.
Meanwhile, on the other side of this debate a different attitude,” says Tommy Pope, Speaker Pro Temp.
”Pro-life representatives…they’re optimistic,” he says.
Pro-life State Representative Tommy Pope says South Carolina’s Fetal Heartbeat Bill has been the side talk of the House chambers. If Roe gets overturned, it could clear the path for the law to get out of the courts.
”It might be that when the court rules, in essence, it would reverse the lower courts ruling anyway,” he says.
Pope says an overturn could open the door to even further restrictions, potentially a quote “outright ban.”
”Especially if it’s on the more pro-life side, then I would anticipate more bills coming,” he says.
But what South Carolinas shouldn’t anticipate is an almost immediate abortion ban. The state does not have a trigger law in place, which would ban abortions immediately if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
”I can see people moving in the House but the difficulty would be we basically have two more weeks in session,” says Pope.
Just like Warner, it is a waiting game, but they are waiting with hope.
”They’re optimistic. I’m cautiously optimistic,” he says.
Experts say the Supreme Court could rule on Roe v. Wade in the next month or so. WBTV will continue tracking that decision and what it means for South Carolina and the Fetal Heartbeat Bill.
Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.