A bill banning abortions at 20-weeks of pregnancy or later is heading to the House floor for debate.
The House Judiciary Committee approved advancing the bill in a voice vote Tuesday.
The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, who has said the abortion restriction is necessary because science shows fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Activists against the 20-week abortion ban say science does not support that claim.
The bill would ban abortions at 20-weeks or later, require physicians to determine the age of the fetus before performing an abortion, increase requirements for physicians to report the pregnant woman's age, race, and the method of abortion, and set criminal penalties for doctors who break the law.
If a woman receives an abortion at 20 weeks or later to save her life, the physician must use the method of abortion lost likely to save the unborn child.
Under the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, abortions are permitted during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. But states are allowed to ban abortions after the 24th week – the point at which the unborn child is considered “viable,” or able to live outside the womb – if they provide an exception for the woman’s health and life.