Palmetto Sunrise: Hutto could hold key to abortion debate

Sen. Brad Hutto, is a key figure in the Senate abortion debate. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, is a key figure in the abortion debate expected today in the Senate.

A bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks is a goal for many on the Republican side of the aisle, but Hutto stands in the way, threatening a filibuster.

He could relent. An amendment put up by Sen. Larry Grooms that would allow abortions in the case of an abnormal fetus nearly passed muster Wednesday, but Hutto said it needed more work.

Interestingly, the 20-week bill isn’t necessarily a priority for anti-abortion advocates. Last year, Charleston pastor Kevin Baird questioned the effort because no South Carolina abortion clinics perform 20-week abortions, and the bill would have little effect. “For many of us in the pro-life movement, we’re scratching our heads,” Baird said. “This addresses what - maybe zero to some anomaly? Then we feel like we have a victory?”

Women’s health groups say the ban could imperil a doctor’s medical decision.

Hutto delivered fiery rhetoric on the issue last year when he was running for U.S. Senate. It remains to be seen whether he will seek a compromise or not.

“Republicans do not like women,” he said when the issue came up last year. “I trust the women of South Carolina to be able to make decisions about their bodies, about themselves, about their lives. I don’t see a group of old men in the Senate trying to toy with the healthcare of women. That is best left to them and their doctors.”

The Senate begins its session at 11 a.m.

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