‘Fetal heartbeat’ bill proposes abortion restrictions, stirs up controversy

Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina State House representatives are considering a bill that would make it illegal for women to get an abortion if the doctor can detect a heartbeat from the fetus.

The SC Fetal Heartbeat Protection from Abortion Act proposes requiring medical professionals to test for a detectable heartbeat before performing an abortion on a pregnant woman.

“Fetal heartbeat is a key medical predictor that an unborn human individual will reach live birth,” the bill reads.

Members of the American Civil Liberties Union in Charleston voiced concerns about the bill, arguing the change to abortion laws would restrict women’s rights in South Carolina.

“It’s trying to set a restriction on abortion that would make it so that abortions are pretty much not available,” ACLU Legal Director Susan Dunn said.

Dunn will travel from Charleston to Columbia on Thursday to speak out against the proposed legislation at the State House.

“This is unconstitutional, it’s not a good medical policy, it’s not a good political philosophy,” Dunn said.

However, a spokesperson from the Charleston County Republican Party said the party supports the new abortion bill.

“We are strongly pro-life,” Charleston County Republican Party member Pete Barnettt said. “We support this bill and we believe it is the right step forward, not just for our community, but for our state.”

They see the bill as a way to preserve and protect life. The party also agrees that a heartbeat is a critical indicator of human life.

Barnett said the party is especially in favor of focusing on the heartbeat of a fetus to determine if an abortion should happen.

“When you can feel and hear the heartbeat of an unborn child, there’s no real question right there anymore whether or not that is a child that is growing and living,” Barnett said. “So obviously that is a big definer that we use to say we should be respecting this life from here on forward.”

The bill goes before the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Columbia.

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