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SC GOP to lawmakers: Pass abortion ban now

Pressure is mounting on S.C. lawmakers to pass an abortion ban.

The S.C. Republican Party wants lawmakers to hurry up and ban the procedure that doctors say is the most common and safest way to perform a second-trimester abortion.

The S.C. GOP’s executive committee voted unanimously Saturday in support of the swift passage of a bill that would outlaw what the legislation’s supporters say is a “dismemberment” abortion unless the woman undergoes another procedure before the abortion to stop the fetus’ heart.

Opponents say the bill would restrict women’s access to an abortion procedure often performed when the mother’s health is threatened by a much desired pregnancy or when the fetus is developing with severe fetal anomalies. In South Carolina, the procedure was performed 22 times in 2016 – less than 1 percent of all abortions performed in the state that year.

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Wading into the debate as state senators prepare to take the bill up Thursday, the S.C. GOP’s leaders passed a resolution calling on the Senate to pass the proposal without making any changes so that it can go immediately to Gov. Henry McMaster for his signature.

McMaster, a Republican seeking re-election, has said he would sign another bill aimed at banning abortion completely. That bill defines life as beginning at conception, effectively giving fetuses the same rights as people.

The “dismemberment” ban “would stop the barbaric practice of ripping live unborn children in pieces in order to perform an abortion,” the S.C. GOP resolution says.

The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Lin Bennett, R-Charleston, would make it a felony to perform a “dismemberment abortion” that “kills an unborn child” unless the procedure is necessary to prevent “serious health risk” to the pregnant woman.

Doctors would face a fine of $10,000 or two years in prison, or both, if convicted of breaking the law.

The bill passed the overwhelming Republican House with only 17 votes against it and comes before the Senate Medical Affairs Committee Thursday. That panel’s approval is the last stop before the bill heads to the full Senate, where Republicans hold a majority of seats.

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