As the legislation ( H. 3020) awaits a hearing in the S.C. Senate, conversations debating its legality picked up steam last week when state representative Justin Bamberg asked South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson to review the legalities of the legislation, a request Wilson denied.
We asked South Carolina senate majority leader Shane Massey to weigh in on this debate – and give us his opinion on what will happen to the bill.
Weeks ago, the Republican leader was quoted as saying he didn’t believe there were enough votes to pass the heartbeat bill, which would ban most abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, WTOC reported.
Asked if and when Massey would bring the bill to a vote, he said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know if we have the votes,” he said. “If there isn’t a vote on it, there will be a lot of very upset people … I wish we could move forward with it, but you(’ve) got to have votes to do that.”
We then asked Massey on specifics: Which Republican senators does he think would side with Democrats on the issue?
“No one in particular,” he said. “We need 26 votes and the votes just aren’t there.”
Massey said previous pro-life bills consistently received 24 votes – not enough to break a filibuster. He added that he blames the lack of movement of the bill on the pro-life Democrats.
“There are a number of Democrats who identify themselves as pro-life,” Massey said “We give the pro-life Democrats a pass and focus on Republicans.”
The heartbeat bill is one of several pro-life bills at the S.C. State House right now. Last week, supporters of the personhood bill held a rally in support of their preferred pro-life bills, S. 485 and H. 3920 – which have not advanced beyond the committee level.
“I think at some point, there will be some kind of a vote on the issue, whether if that’s the bill itself, it’s hard to say,” Massey said.
Massey said the recent increased public pressure for a pro-life legislation, such as Gov. Henry McMaster’s recent push, could change minds too.
“As soon as the bill reaches my desk I will sign it,” McMaster tweeted last month.
Is it legal?
Last week, Bamberg, a Democrat, asked Wilson’s office to give their opinion on whether or not the heartbeat bill would be legal if it was made a law and how much it would cost the state to fight the court battles in order to uphold it.
Several other states, including Arkansas, North Dakota, and Mississippi that passed similar bills have been blocked by judges, Vox reported.
In a letter, Wilson’s office said it wouldn’t be appropriate to say whether or not the bill was legal, calling it “it is difficult, if not impossible,” because the bill could change several times before passing, which could alter its legal status.
Massey said if they pass some version of the heartbeat bill, it would require a “lengthy and expensive court battle” challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made all abortions in the first trimester legal and protected by the constitution.
“You hear that sometimes … people saying ‘Let the other states pay the cost for that and see how it plays out,’” he said. “The bill is clearly unconstitutional under current interpretation, but the purpose of the bill is to get the court to reconsider its previous decisions.”
Massey said he doesn’t think the legal ramifications of the bill play a major factor in its inability to pass.
“I think more of the problem here is a philosophical thing than a concern about (the court battle),” he said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].