In a special legislative session called by Governor Henry McMaster, the South Carolina House of Representative began the arduous debate to pass the
Fetal Heartbeat and Protection Act (S474).

The House met at noon Tuesday and quickly began the debate on the law that protects unborn children from abortion once the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. The first vote taken at 12:56 p.m. set the tone for the rest of the day. By a vote of 76-27, the full House adopted the House Judiciary Amendment. Then the debate began on the next 1,000 amendments intended to thwart final passage.

By 7:15 p.m., pro-life lawmakers had methodically staved off the first 60 pro-abortion amendments, motions to adjourn, and other tactics to delay passage of the life-saving measure. The pro-life votes were consistently in the 70s and pro-abortion votes in the 20s and low 30s throughout the afternoon boding well for final passage.

Last Thursday (May 11, 2023), House Speaker Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, told the House members in no uncertain terms that during the special session, the House will work without breaking until “we get through that bill and have a final vote.”

The House lobby and balcony were filled with pro-life supporters from around South Carolina. They displayed colorful stickers with the message “PASS S474” surrounding a red heart with a heartbeat symbol running through it.

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Amy Baker, SCCL lobbyist, said, “What an encouraging sight to witness pro-life South Carolinians today at the S.C. Statehouse who came from all over the state to pray and encourage our pro-life House majority,” she said. “The overwhelming sentiment among the group is that they’ll be here to support the fetal heartbeat bill until its passage.”

Theoretically the House could be in session for days. Each amendment can be debated for six minutes – three minutes in favor and three minutes opposed.South Carolina Citizens for Life President Lisa Van Riper was encouraged by the strong stand of the pro-life House members. “I’m very grateful the House is taking up the Heartbeat Bill in special session,” she said. “It is the correct move given the skyrocketing number of abortions occurring in South Carolina” after Georgia and Florida passed fetal heartbeat protection laws.

According to the State Department of Health and Environmental Control there currently are 1,000 abortions per month occurring in the Palmetto State largely because of out-of-state abortion traffic into South Carolina.

Once the Fetal Heartbeat Bill is passed in the House, it will return to the Senate where it originated. The Senators can approve the changes made by the House or reject the changes. If the Senate accepts the changes, the bill heads to Governor McMaster’s desk for his signature. If the Senate rejects the House changes, then the House and Senate leadership will appoint a conference committee made up of three House members and three Senators who will be tasked with reaching a compromise.

LifeNews Note: Holly Gatling is the executive director for South Carolina Citizens for Life.

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