Columbia, S.C., Mar 22, 2014 / 05:03 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pro-life advocates praised the South Carolina House’s passage of a bill to ban abortions after 19 weeks into pregnancy – the point at which science has indicated unborn children can feel pain.
“The majority of Americans support this swift moving, popular movement to protect children from abortion more than halfway through pregnancy,” Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List said Wednesday.
Dannenfelser thanked the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Wendy Nanney, saying her efforts “reflect the reality that women support this measure in even higher numbers than men.”
“I've always been pro-life,” Nanney said.
The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act passed March 19 by a vote of 84-29 in the Republican-controlled House, largely by a party-line vote, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.
Bill supporters cited claims that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks into pregnancy.
Nanney, responding to criticisms of those claims, said she would “rather err on the side of protecting that baby from pain.”
No South Carolina clinic performs 20-week abortions, the Post and Courier says. The bill provides an exception for women on the verge of organ failure or death.
The bill could face legal challenges if it passes the state Senate and is signed into law.
Nine other states have passed bans on abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy.
In West Virginia, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed a similar pro-life bill by overwhelming margins. It now heads to the desk of West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Though Tomblin is a pro-life Democrat, he has told The Associated Press he is concerned that the bill is unconstitutional.
On March 18, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the passage of the federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
He connected the legislation to the case of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted a year ago in the gruesome murders of babies who had survived late-term abortions.
“On this anniversary of the Gosnell trial, let’s show the world that we remember those who have been victimized by people like Kermit Gosnell and unite in this positive and life-affirming effort to safeguard the most vulnerable among us,” Sen. McConnell said. “Let’s take up this important pro-life legislation and send it to the President.”