SC passes bill banning abortion after 19 weeks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The South Carolina Legislature passed a bill Tuesday prohibiting abortion after 19 weeks, becoming the 17th state to pass the restrictive ban.

The legislation will now head to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk. The Republican said in March she will almost certainly sign it, but wants to look at the details once it reaches her desk.

Similar laws are in effect in 12 states. They’ve been blocked by court challenges in three others, and the U.S. Supreme Court has yet to rule on the ban’s constitutionality. A South Dakota law signed in March takes effect this summer.

In Utah, a related law, also signed in March, requires doctors to provide anesthesia to a fetus at least 20 weeks in the womb.

The South Carolina bill is among several fronts abortion rights supporters say make having the procedure tougher.

Abortion opponents have also passed laws in other states requiring clinics to get admitting privileges for doctors and banning a procedure commonly used in the second trimester, known as an evacuation method.

The South Carolina House approved the bill 79-29. The Senate approved a compromise in March.

The ban allows exceptions only if the mother’s life is in jeopardy or a doctor determines the fetus can’t survive outside the womb.

The measure’s limited definition of “fetal anomaly” means it would be illegal to abort a fetus with a severe disability if the child could live.

Such anomalies are generally detected around 20 weeks.

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