S.C. Senate approves 20-week abortion ban

The S.C. Senate voted on Wednesday to limit abortion.

COLUMBIA — A hard-line abortion opponent dropped his objection Wednesday to a measure that limits abortion at 20 weeks, allowing the Senate to pass the bill and send it back to the House for consideration.

Proponents say the ban is necessary because a fetus is said to feel pain around 20 weeks — although that is disputed in the medical community. Democrats had insisted on exceptions to the ban for rape, incest and severe fetal abnormalities, which were included in the Senate’s bill and passed on a voice vote.

The House previously passed a version of the measure in February.

Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, had previously stalled the measure to avoid passing the bill with the exceptions, which he said should not be included. Bright said, however, he was assured by House leaders that they would strip out the exceptions, and he therefore felt comfortable allowing the bill to move forward. The differences in the bills would likely have to be hashed out by a House-Senate conference committee.

Women’s health advocates say the ban could interfere with a doctor’s medical decision. “It’s the South Carolina Senate saying ‘we know better than you and we know better than your physician,’ ” said Alyssa Miller, a spokeswoman for the women’s health and abortion provider Planned Parenthood.

Such late-term abortions are rare, representing less than 1 percent of all abortions, experts say.

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.