A pair of South Carolina conservatives are ready to follow the paths set by other state legislatures and ban abortion in all but name, an attempt to set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade.
State Rep. John McCravy and state Sen. Larry Grooms announced late Sunday night that they will introduce a fetal heartbeat bill, which will lower the South Carolina standard from 20 weeks to whenever a heartbeat can first be detected. That date can come as early as six weeks, which will give women little-to-no time between realizing they’re pregnant and making a major life decision; per The State, 60 percent of all South Carolina abortions came after the six-week mark last year.
Both McCravy and Grooms will introduce the bills in their respective chambers in the coming weeks, as the pre-filing session begins in mid-December, per the Index-Journal. The upcoming legislative session will officially start on Jan. 9.
This will be yet another in a long line of attempts by McCravy and South Carolina conservatives—heartbeat bills have been drafted and rejected in four of the past six legislative sessions, per The State. Back in May, McCravy proposed forgoing $30 million in federal family planning funds, arguing that “Planned Parenthood has done enough killing.” The characterization of abortion as murder sparked a debate on the floor, which led to multiple Democrats admonishing McCravy for ignoring the actual functions of Planned Parenthood.
The latest move follows the actions of the state legislatures in Ohio and Iowa, who have both pursued legislation with similarly worded restrictions. Iowa’s, passed in May, was swiftly challenged by Planned Parenthood, with a judge granting an injunction on the legislation in July.
Ohio had its heartbeat bill initially rejected via veto by Gov. John Kasich in 2016. But in a recent legislative session, a pair of uber-conservatives in the state House decided to double-down on this move and introduce an outright state ban on abortions. Thankfully, not even the major anti-abortion group that lobbies for Ohio-specific legislation, Right-to-Life, would throw its support behind the bill.
But these individual failings belie the larger trend of conservative state legislators attempting to retract and gut any remaining reproductive rights for women and nonbinary people. In shoving the heartbeat legislation through state Houses and Senates dominated by Republicans, the aim is clear: right-wingers want to push the envelope as far as they can in a pragmatic fashion, until they have what is deemed by the ghouls that populate the conservative legal sphere as a case that can prove to be a worthy challenger of Roe v. Wade.
McCravy may be an asshole, but he and Grooms know exactly how to play this game. Even if past measures have failed, South Carolina is still one of 23 states where Republicans have unified control of the government—meaning that with the right order of horse-trading, there is still a very real chance this legislation snakes its way to the governor’s desk. And once it’s there, it’s a stroke of a pen away from sending the Palmetto State hurtling toward a pre-Roe reality and the state into a mire of costly lawsuits—in other words, the plan coming to fruition.