Legislative Update: Abortion Ban Fails, Heartbeat Bill Gets New Life

H5399 — a bill that would have banned all abortions beginning at conception, with the exception of the life of the mother, rape, incest, and fatal fetal anomalies — failed to pass in the South Carolina Senate. Instead, the Senate passed a “strike and insert” version of the 2021 Fetal Heartbeat Bill that contains language that many South Carolina legal experts believe will make it much more likely the state Supreme Court will allow it to stand. The Senate added a ban on all state funding for Planned Parenthood and made it illegal for any South Carolina employee to use their state-provided health insurance to pay for an abortion. H5399, in a form almost identical to the House-passed version, failed because six Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting to sustain a filibuster.

To fully understand the drama that has gripped the South Carolina Legislature this summer, we need to look at how we arrived at this point. As the Legislature neared the end of their 2022 session, news leaked that the United States Supreme Court was going to use Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health as an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, a decision that has led to approximately 63.5 million abortions (according to the Guttmacher Institute) since 1973. Both the Senate and the House agreed to add consideration of new pro-life legislation in their sine die resolution, allowing them to reconvene this summer to consider South Carolina’s response should Roe be overturned.

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