On Wednesday, South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation that bans abortions after 20 weeks, with exceptions when the mother’s life is in jeopardy or if the doctor believes that the baby would not be able to survive outside of the womb. With this legislation, South Carolina became the 17th state to ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Doctors who violate South Carolina’s legislation face fines of up to $10,000 and risk three years of prison, Fox News reports. The bill impacts only hospitals since the state’s three abortion clinics do not perform abortions after 15 weeks.
While there was little surprise that Governor Haley signed the bill given her strong pro-life record, LifeNews writes that the South Carolina bill even had strong bipartisan support in the Senate, with nine of the 18 Democrat senators approving the legislation.
The bill protects “pain-capable unborn children from savage late abortions that frequently tear the baby’s body apart, limb by limb,” South Carolina Citizens for Life Executive Director Holly Gatling explains.
Some contest the science of fetal pain, even as research dating back to the 1980s has established that fetal pain can be experienced earlier than 20 weeks.
Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician and one of the first researchers to provide the scientific basis for fetal pain, testified before the U.S. Congress that a fetus can feel pain as early as eight weeks.
Decades ago, Zielinski and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas Marzen wrote: