South Carolina House passes abortion ban, bill allows exceptions for rape and incest

After hours of deliberation and debate, the South Carolina House of Representatives voted Tuesday evening to pass an amended version of its near-total abortion ban.

The bill includes a blanket exception for the life of the mother and an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest for up to 12 weeks.

Much of Tuesday's debate centered around proposed exceptions to the bill, which before today included only an exception for the life of the mother.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle proposed amendments ranging from language that would greatly expand access to abortion to amendments that called for charging people who perform abortions with felonies. At the end of Tuesday's meeting, only three amendments of the more than 20 that were heard ended up in the bill.

Previous coverage: Proposed SC abortion ban does not include exceptions for survivors of sexual assault

Related: SC Supreme Court temporarily blocks six-week abortion ban

Amendments create exceptions for rape and incest, mandate in-utero child support

The amendment to allow abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest for up to 12 weeks was added to the bill after a nearly two-hour recess in which Republicans met to build consensus ahead of the full House vote.

Before the recess, exceptions for rape and incest were proposed multiple times by various representatives but were struck down each time.

Rep. John McCravy, who has shepherded the bill through committee, previously stated during an ad-hoc committee meeting in July that including exceptions for rape and incest would be turning one tragedy into two.

When the rape and incest exception was first struck down early Tuesday afternoon by a vote of 25-75, Rep. Micah Caskey, R-Lexington, called out Democrats for playing a political game with proposed amendments.

In response, Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, called out Republicans in the chamber and said the amendments were not enough to stop harm from being done to the women of South Carolina.

"This is not our bill," Stavrinakis said. "If you don't like it, get your own house in order."

A second amendment added to the bill came from McCravy, R-Greenwood. The amendment removed three sentences from the bill that are also found in the state's current six-week abortion ban. McCravy said legal questions over those three sentences are at the center of the current state Supreme Court case determining the constitutionality of that law.

He said removing these sentences was a way to "clean up" the bill.

The final amendment added to the bill called for biological fathers to pay child support beginning at conception instead of birth, and it was proposed by Caskey. He said the amendment would be retroactive if the paternity of the child was ever questioned and needed to be tested.

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Democrats strategize, fail to secure big win

Democrats entered Tuesday's debate with a "strategy," said Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter at a news conference during the House's recess.

Although she would not confirm explicitly what that strategy entailed, many Democrats voted against every proposed amendment put forth during the meeting. Essentially, the move acted as an attempt to call the bluff of Republican lawmakers who will face voters in November.

During the Democrats' news conference, many legislators stressed the importance of voting in the general election as a key part of the legislative process and a way to hold lawmakers accountable.

Rep. Chandra Dillard, a Democrat from Greenville, said there would be "mass destruction" if Democrats did show up to the polls in November.

State Rep Chandra Dillard of District 23 in Greenville County during a session in the South Carolina House of Representatives of the State Capitol in Columbia, S.C. Monday, June 21, 2021.
State Rep Chandra Dillard of District 23 in Greenville County during a session in the South Carolina House of Representatives of the State Capitol in Columbia, S.C. Monday, June 21, 2021.

When the House returned from recess, a first vote on the bill ended in its defeat. But after a call for reconsideration of the bill, a second vote was held in which the bill passed 67-38. The House will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, for a third reading and final vote before sending the bill to the Senate. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene after Labor Day.

– Tim Carlin covers county government, growth and development for The Greenville News. Follow him on Twitter @timcarlin_, and get in touch with him at You can support his work by subscribing to The Greenville News at

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: SC House sends abortion ban with rape, incest exceptions to Senate