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SC fetal heartbeat abortion bill doesn't have votes to pass, senator says

The measure bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A key South Carolina senator says he doesn't believe the votes are there to pass a bill that would ultimately ban most abortions in South Carolina. 

At a media workshop Thursday before the new session, Sen. Shane Massey, a Republican from Aiken who's also Majority Leader, says he's not sure the bill will make it through the Senate.

"From my impression right now is we don't have the votes," Massey said. "I think it's good policy, if there's a heartbeat there's a life and we ought to protect it. But, it's pretty clear to me based on where we were two years ago and nothing significantly has changed since then, that we don't have the votes to pass it."

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The measure bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically around the sixth week of pregnancy. Opponents of the bill say that is not enough time for a woman to know she's pregnant and make a decision on the procedure.

The Senate debated a similar ban in 2018, but Republicans couldn't get a two-thirds vote needed to get over a procedural hurdle. Democrats have added a seat since then. 

Last fall, there was a push by a senator to remove exemptions for rape and incest. But those were restored in a committee vote in November. 

More than a half-dozen states have passed similar bans, and Alabama has approved a ban on all abortions. The laws are all tied up in courts.