South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright, an ardent anti-choice Republican, filibustered a bill Thursday to ban abortion 20 weeks post-fertilization. The measure, he said, is too lenient because it included exceptions for rape, incest, and fetal anomaly.
HB 3114 is one of four “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection” bills introduced this session in the South Carolina legislature, where Republicans dominate both chambers. After moving through the state house in just over a week, the measure, which relies on spurious evidence that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, went to the senate, where some Democratic legislators sought to add limited exceptions for rape, incest, and fetal anomaly as a compromise.
Bright, who introduced a 20-week abortion ban this session, began filibustering in opposition to the amendment.
Other anti-choice South Carolina Republicans unsuccessfully tried several times to force him from the podium.
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“I’m going to stand in the gap for that child that you don’t think deserves a right because his father is a criminal,” Bright said, in reference to the exceptions for rape and incest. “Baby Doe, that child who we’ll never meet, is going to have a trial today. And we’re going to decide if it’s guilty of a capital offense because its father was a criminal.”
“I may lose a primary, I may lose an election,” Bright said in scolding lawmakers who supported the exception compromise. “The founders never intended for us to kill our own children.”
Bright’s campaign website reflects his opposition to 20-week bans for failing to be stringent enough. “No exceptions,” the site says in outlining the Republican’s anti-choice policy stance.
The claim that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks has been discredited by medical professionals, including the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Bans on abortion after 20 weeks are unconstitutional, and have been since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
This week, the U.S. House passed a 20-week ban after amendments, though still onerous, were added for rape and incest. House Republicans originally introduced the measure in January, but pulled it after Republican women voiced concerns over the lack of exceptions.
State legislatures across the country have been at work on 20-week bans this year. The West Virginia legislature in March passed a 20-week ban after overriding its governor’s veto on the measure. Such bans also have been introduced in Wisconsin, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia.
In South Carolina, senators rolled out an anti-choice agenda in December, pre-filing eight anti-choice bills. Those bills included a 20-week ban, a ban on medication abortion, an admitting privileges law, and a ban on state health insurance coverage of abortion.
Bright was one of three senators responsible for all eight measures.