A bill that would criminalize doctors who perform dismemberment abortions passed the S.C. House and is heading to the Senate.
The legislation, sponsored by freshman state Rep. Lin Bennett, R-Charleston, would make it a felony to dismember a fetus for the purposes of killing it unless the procedure is necessary to prevent serious health risk to the unborn child's mother.
Penalties include a fine of $10,000 or two years imprisonment or both.
The bill is the latest in an effort, driven by S.C. Republicans and supported by some Democrats, to reduce women’s access to abortion in South Carolina.
Last year, the state adopted a new law banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later.
After receiving a 89-17 vote to pass Wednesday, the “dismemberment” bill targets a procedure called dilation and evacuation. It would criminalize procedures that dismember “a living unborn child” by extracting the body “one piece at a time from the uterus through use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush, and/or grasp a portion of the unborn child's body to cut or rip it off.”
The bill excludes from criminal charges abortion procedures that use suction to dismember the fetus’ body.
Medical doctors have opposed the bill, saying it would ban the safest and most common and effective abortion procedure for women in their second trimester of pregnancy.