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House Bill 5399 now moves back to the House

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Last night, the South Carolina Senate heavily amended and ultimately passed House Bill 5399, a bill that started out as a total abortion ban but would now, as passed, ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy — before many people know they are pregnant. The new Senate bill doubles down on the state’s existing ban on abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy, which is currently blocked by the South Carolina Supreme Court. Currently, abortion remains legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in South Carolina.

Under the amended bill, survivors of sexual assault can only obtain an abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy if within 24 hours of the abortion the physician reports the alleged rape to the sheriff in their county and provides law enforcement with the patient’s name, contact information, and fetal DNA, irrespective of the patient’s wishes. Abortions are allowed in cases of limited fatal fetal diagnoses only if two physicians confirm the diagnosis.

“This bill was passed by men who believe they know best — men who believe they should have full control over women’s bodies and private medical decisions,” said Vicki Ringer, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. “Patients and providers alike are experiencing a lot of confusion and fear as politicians gamble with people’s lives and double down on cruel policies. This bill insults South Carolina doctors, questioning their expertise and interfering in best practices, and puts survivors of sexual assault at risk, further traumatizing them with mandatory reporting and forced DNA collection. Make no mistake: no matter how many narrow exceptions are written into this dangerous bill, it will cause chaos in the health care system and result in people being denied life-saving care. We’re talking about a fundamental human right, and no amount of amendments make this bill acceptable.”

“There is nothing more extreme than a law that strips people of the freedom to govern their own bodies,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “All abortion bans put politicians where they don’t belong: in charge of other people’s private medical decisions. No matter what exceptions they add, anti-abortion legislators are putting people’s health and lives at risk. We are in a public health crisis where nearly a third of U.S. states have abortion bans in effect, and 1 in 3 American women have already lost access to essential care. South Carolina lawmakers want their state to be next, and their shameful politicking will come at the expense of lives.”

Because the bill was amended, H.B. 5399 now returns to the House for consideration. If the House approves the Senate’s amended ban, it then goes to the governor for approval or veto, and would be effective immediately upon his signature.

Recent polling shows that abortion bans like this are wildly unpopular with people in the state. According to the poll, conducted July 1-2, 2022 by Public Policy Polling, nearly two-thirds of South Carolinians want abortion to be legal and accessible in their state. Nearly 70% believe the decision to have an abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor — not state lawmakers.



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