Fetal heartbeat abortion ban advances to SC House floor after hours-long debate

State lawmakers on Tuesday passed to the House floor a bill that would ban nearly all abortions in South Carolina, after hearing hours of competing pleas from pastors, women’s rights advocates, pregnancy counselors, parents and doctors.

After about five hours of debate, the GOP-dominated House Judiciary Committee voted 15-7 along party lines Tuesday night to advance a fetal heartbeat abortion ban to the full House, where Democrats promised another fight.

The legislation would outlaw abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically around the sixth week of pregnancy. Six weeks is before some women know they are pregnant and long before the fetus can survive outside the womb.

After another contentious debate, the bill was revised to include exceptions for women whose pregnancies resulted from rape or incest.