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South Carolina 20-Week Abortion Ban Won’t Include Rape or Incest Exceptions

Nina Liss-Schultz

HB 3114, which had various amendments tacked on by both the house and senate, will likely be taken up in January with only an exception for fetal anomaly, said Democratic state Rep. Robert L. Ridgeway.

South Carolina legislators have dropped exceptions for rape or incest from a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks post-fertilization. HB 3114, which had various amendments tacked on by both the house and senate this year, will likely be taken up in January with only an exception for fetal anomaly, said Democratic state Rep. Robert L. Ridgeway.

“We have agreed on some of the language but there’s still one or two areas that we need to fine tune,” Ridgeway told Rewire. “Due to the lateness, everything is probably on hold until January.”

The original house bill, introduced in December, included only an exception for the life of the pregnant person. After being passed by the GOP-dominated house, senators added exceptions for rape, incest, and fetal anomaly. But anti-choice lawmakers in the house rejected those amendments, leading to the convening of a committee to iron out the differences in the two versions.

After meeting Wednesday, Ridgeway, who sits on the committee, told Rewire that it had decided to add exceptions only for fetal anomaly and not rape or incest. Ridgeway, a trained medical doctor, said that the fetal anomaly exception should be left on because it’s essentially a medical decision to be made by a doctor.

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By contrast, rape and incest are “judicial” decisions, and so could be kept off of the bill, he said.

Other sticking points included a question about how to word the part of the bill that will outline physician liability. The bill’s original text included unique punishments created for physicians who performed abortions after 20 weeks, but the new bill will subject those physicians to general malpractice liability.

Though time is running out for the bill this year, it will be taken up in its current form in 2016.

A dozen states have this year introduced laws banning abortion after 20 weeks. In May, the U.S. House passed a 20-week ban with no exception for the pregnant person’s health or for fetal anomalies.

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