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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | South Carolina House Passes Bill Requiring Mandatory Waiting Period for Abortions

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | South Carolina House Passes Bill Requiring Mandatory Waiting Period for Abortions
[Feb. 26, 2009]

South Carolina's House on Tuesday voted 83-28 to approve a bill (H. 3245) requiring women to wait at least 24 hours after an ultrasound before receiving an abortion, the AP/Rock Hill Herald reports. The bill, called the "two-visit bill" by critics, increases the state's mandatory waiting period from one hour. Advocates for the measure said it will give women time to reflect on their decision, as well as put South Carolina in line with a majority of states that have similar laws. Some Democrats noted that other states do not connect the waiting period with an ultrasound. Rep. Steve Parker (R) said the bill "will save lives" and that "[i]f we save one life, I think it's worthwhile."

According to the AP/Herald, Republicans defeated efforts to include provisions in the bill exempting rape survivors and protecting the jobs of women who make the two-day trip. Critics of the bill who proposed the amendments said requiring two trips creates a burden for low-income women living in rural areas because they have to take two days off work and arrange travel to one of three clinics in the state that offer abortion services.

Democrats called the measure an "arrogant assumption that women can't think for themselves," the AP/Herald reports. Rep. James Smith (D) said the bill says to women, "we don't think you thought well enough about [an abortion] on your own. We don't trust you enough, so you've got to come back twice." He added that his male colleagues in the House "won't ever be making that decision, but you will, with a push of a button on your desk, make a decision for women." Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D) said abortion-rights opponents were hypocritical for passing legislation limiting access to abortion while defeating a proposal to accelerate social services to women who decide to carry a pregnancy to term. Cobb-Hunter said, "We love the fetus, but there's very little outpouring of love when that child is born." She added that the bill, for some, "appears to be a very slippery slope" that "begs the question: How far will we go?"

House Democrats also criticized the Republican majority for spending three hours debating abortion instead of discussing the state's current budget crisis and unemployment rate, which is the third highest in the country at 9.5%, the AP/Herald reports. Republican Rep. Garry Smith said, "To say the budget, the dollar, is more important than the life of a child is offensive."

House Passes Bill Requiring Care for Fetuses That Survive Abortion

In related news, the House also voted 105-5 to approve a bill (H. 3342) that would provide "lifesaving treatment or comfort as any other person" for a fetus that survives an abortion procedure, the AP/Herald reports. The bill defines a person as anyone who has a beating heart and is breathing after birth, whether by labor, caesarean section or abortion. The measure mirrors a federal law former President George W. Bush signed in 2002 (Adcox, AP/Rock Hill Herald, 2/25).