Senator stalls own anti-abortion bill to prevent exceptions

Sen. Lee Bright

COLUMBIA — A bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks stalled Thursday after an ardent anti-abortion rights senator objected to allowing exemptions for rape, incest or severe fetal anomaly.

The bill is called a “fetal pain” bill because supporters say a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks, although that is disputed in the medical community.

After the amendment initially failed, it looked as if the Senate would move to reconsider it because Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said he would filibuster the bill unless his amendment were included.

“This is a constitutional right,” said Hutto, adding, “I don’t think a bunch of old men ought to be making this decision.”

When it appeared that the Senate was willing to vote on the amendment, Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, threatened to filibuster his own bill, saying he does not believe there should be any exemptions.

Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, had pleaded with his colleagues to accept the compromise.

“I’m not for exceptions,” he said. “I understand the political realities. This is a matter of life or death. There are some unborn children out there right now and I want to make sure they live. I’m not comfortable with the exceptions, but if we can’t save them all then let’s save what we can.”

Bright said he would not compromise.

“I may lose a primary, I may lose an election,” he said. “The Founders never intended for us to kill our own children.”

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.