COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WIS) - A bill banning abortion in South Carolina beyond the 19th week of pregnancy is heading to the full House Judiciary Committee.
A legislative panel voted 2-1 Tuesday to advance the proposal, which provides an exception only when the mother's life is in danger. Doctors who disregard the ban could be charged with a felony.
The bill's sponsors say the measure is about protecting children from pain. The bill states a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks old.
"A majority of medical professionals agree it does feel pain," said Rep. Wendy Nanney.
But opponents say that's not scientifically settled, and that other reviews conclude a fetus doesn't feel pain before 24 weeks.
"I think the writers of the bill saw that, and they had in there a trust fund set up to fund the defense of the bill," said Rep. Ronnie Sabb.
Opponents call the bill an unconstitutional political interference in a women's private medical decision. They contend such late-term abortions are rare and generally occur in wanted pregnancies that go horribly wrong.
"There's some perception that we're saving babies, but we know these abortions are done in very severe cases of fetal abnormalities with very low rates of survival outside of the womb," said Dr. Deborah Billings from the University of South Carolina School of Public Health.
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