© Reuters. TOP PHOTO: Protesters gather inside the South Carolina House as members debate a new ban on abortion excluding pregnancies caused by rape or sexual intercourse with a family member at the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina, US August 30, 2022. REUTE
By Sharon Bernstein and Julia Harte
(Reuters) – South Carolina lawmakers on Tuesday banned most abortions after the fetal heart has started, at about six weeks.
The highly controversial bill, which Republican Governor Henry McMaster is expected to sign, passed largely along party lines, with the exception of five women in the state senate, who opposed it.
The Republican-backed law, which bans abortions for most women before they know they are pregnant, is a modified version that the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional earlier this year. It allows for 12-week abortions in cases of sexual assault by a family member, and also provides an exception for medical emergencies.
“We’ll see you in court,” Planned Parenthood South Atlantic tweeted after Tuesday’s South Carolina Senate vote.
But it was not immediately clear whether the new ban would be overturned like in the past, because the Supreme Court now has a new member who is more conservative.
Abortion is currently legal in South Carolina through the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, one of the state’s most restrictive abortion laws.
Out-of-state abortion researchers have sought attention in South Carolina as many other states in the US South have severely restricted abortion after the US Supreme Court in June 2022 revoked nearly 50 years of abortion rights by overturning Roe. v. Wade the election.