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South Carolina Governor signs 6-week abortion ban into law

Image credit: SC National Guard (L) / CC 2.0 (Embryo at 6 weeks, R

The Governor of South Carolina has today signed a bill into law that will ban most abortions at six weeks into a pregnancy. 

Gov. Henry McMaster signed the heartbeat law on Thursday, with the US state joining a number of Republican-led states, particularly in the South, who have taken action to protect babies with beating hearts from abortion following last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Florida, Georgia, North Dakota, and now South Carolina all now protect unborn children from abortion at 6 weeks. Nebraska and North Carolina, meanwhile, outlaw abortion at 12 weeks. A total of 19 US states now have heartbeat laws in place across the USA, including Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouiri. 

“With my signature, the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act is now law and will begin saving the lives of unborn children immediately,” McMaster, who is a Republican, said in a statement

He described it as a “great day for life in South Carolina” – however, insisted that there was work to do for pro-lifers.

“But the fight is not over,” he said.  We stand ready to defend this legislation against any challenges and are confident we will succeed. The right to life must be preserved, and we will do everything we can to protect it.”

The governor’s office has said that the law is effective immediately. 

Under Senate Bill 474 – the ‘Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,’ most abortions are banned after early cardiac activity can be detected. 

Any physician who knowingly violates the law will have their licence to practise in the state revoked by the State Board of Medical Examiners and could also face felony charges, fines and jail time. The law will ban most abortions at 6 weeks, however, exceptions are included in cases of rape and incest, and in ‘medical emergencies’.

At present, abortions are currently permitted in the southern state up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Mr McMaster tweeted that with the passing of the bill means “our state is one step closer to protecting more innocent lives”.

While abortion advocates vowed to challenge the law in court, the pro-life lobby celebrated the news as a progressive step forward.

Susan B Anthony List said the law reflected “the will of the people and the science”.

“The heartbeat is one of the key vital signs of life, and once the heartbeat is detected, a baby has more than a 90% chance of surviving to birth.

“This measure will save thousands of individuals each year who will enrich the lives of others and the state of South Carolina,” the group said in a statement provided to pro-life media organisation, LifeNews.

The signing of the law comes on the fifth anniversary of the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment by popular vote in Ireland. Repeal has allowed for abortion on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in Ireland. Despite calls for restrictions on abortion in line with early foetal development, abortion campaigners here have used the anniversary of repeal to call for restrictions on abortion, along with the three day wait, to be removed.

As per the HSE, you can sometimes see the baby’s heart beating on a vaginal ultrasound scan at this stage. By 7 weeks gestation, the brain is growing rapidly, and the embryo has a large forehead, with the ears and eyes of the unborn child continuing to develop.

This piece was first published on Gript

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