State Capitol Report

  • Thursday, March 27, 2014

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4223, the “South Carolina Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” which establishes a prohibition on the performance of abortions beginning at 20 weeks following fertilization.

The bill includes legislative findings regarding substantial medical evidence indicating that an unborn child has developed sufficiently to be capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization and the state’s interest in protecting the lives of unborn children beginning at the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain. This legislation provides that, except in the case of a medical emergency, no abortion must be performed, induced, or attempted unless a physician has first made a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child or relied upon such a determination made by another physician.

Any person who intentionally or knowingly fails to conform to this requirement is guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a fine of not less than $2,000 or more than $10,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than three years.

No part of the minimum fine may be suspended. For conviction of a third or subsequent offense, the sentence must be imprisonment for not less than 60 days nor more than three years, no part of which may be suspended.

Failure by any physician to comply constitutes unprofessional conduct. The legislation prohibits abortions from being performed, induced, or attempted when the determination has been made that the probable post-fertilization age is 20 or more weeks.

An exception is allowed for cases in which the mother has a condition that so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions.

When an abortion must be performed where the probable age of the fetus is 20 or more weeks, the legislation requires the physician to proceed in a manner which provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless terminating the pregnancy in this manner would pose a greater risk of either death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the woman than would other available methods.

Physicians performing abortions must provide certain information, including post-fertilization age, on required reports to the state registrar, Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The legislation includes provisions for reports made by physicians to protect individual patient information as well as for the reporting of abortion statistics to the public by the department. The legislation includes penalty provisions for any physician who fails to submit reports within certain timeframes.

Intentional or reckless falsification of any report by a physician is a misdemeanor. Any woman upon whom an abortion has been performed or induced in violation of these provisions, or the father of the unborn child, or any woman upon whom an abortion has been attempted in violation of these provisions, may maintain an action against the person who performed or inducted the abortion in intentional or reckless violation of these provisions for actual and punitive damages.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4922, a bill relating to hiring preferences for veterans. The legislation provides that it is not an unlawful employment practice for a private employer to give preference in employment to a veteran.

This preference is also extended to the veteran’s spouse if the veteran has a service-connected permanent and total disability. The legislation provides that these hiring preferences are not violations of the South Carolina Human Affairs Law provisions that address discriminatory employment practices.

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