Gov. Henry McMaster offered the 2023 State of the State address on Wednesday

The day after Gov. Henry McMaster pushed legislators to approve another abortion ban, House members took the first steps to do just that.

On Thursday, a House subcommittee approved a proposal for a total abortion ban with some exceptions during a public hearing. Earlier this month, the S.C. Supreme Court struck down a six-week abortion ban passed in 2021 that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overrode abortion protections from the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The South Carolina high court overturned the state ban on grounds that it violated the state constitution’s explicit right to privacy.

The new House bill was proposed to ban abortion at conception with exceptions for rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly and the mother’s life and health. The bill must pass the House Judiciary Committee before it can reach the House floor for a vote. Last year, the state Senate couldn’t muster the votes for a total ban, even with some exceptions.  

November 2022 Winthrop Poll showed more than 80% of South Carolina respondents believed abortion should be legal for women if the pregnancy threatens her life or health or is the result of rape. Just under half said women should be able to get an abortion for any reason.

On Wednesday night during his sixth State of the State address, McMaster also vowed to continue fighting for an abortion ban in South Carolina. 

The governor also unveiled a new proposal to restructure how the state selects its judges, according to WCSC-TV.  Some view it as a way to reshape the court after it overturned the six-week bank.

“When I signed the Heartbeat Act into law, I was confident that it was constitutional,” McMaster said in the address. “I still am. Therefore, I will be filing a petition for rehearing next week, along with other state officials, and I remain optimistic that we will prevail in our historic fight to protect and defend the right to, and the sanctity of, life.”

Meanwhile Wednesday in the State of the State address, the governor said he wanted the state to continue its ongoing economic prosperity in South Carolina. He urged lawmakers to keep investing record surpluses into state reserves to prepare for a recession. He also continued his backing of raising teacher wages and fixing roads and bridges. 

In the Democratic response, Sen. Ronnie Sabb urged passage of a hate crimes bill: “Governor, we invite you to add your voice to ours and be a part of good government — one that discourages evil. Governor McMaster, let’s pass Hate Crime Legislation.”

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